Russian President and near-dictator Vladimir Putin’s hatred of Hillary Clinton is no secret, and his longtime goal has been to “break the Anglo-Saxon monopoly on the global information streams.” So how did Putin help put the billionaire in the White House?
By using a sophisticated Russian internet propaganda campaign. The Washington Post reported that the Russians not only spread misleading articles over the web, they even wrote the fake news. Not only did the Russians manage to give the election to Trump, they undermined U.S. citizens’ faith in the American democracy.
Putin’s people let loose a horde of invisible attacks on the November election:
‘…thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers.’
Two groups of independent researchers discovered the cyber-attacks and said that Russia hit during one of the most vulnerable times in the country, during the changing of the White House residency. While Facebook and Google tried to weed out the fake news, the Russian tactics likely complicated their efforts.
Russia managed to penetrate a number of state election officials’ computers and let loose emails to embarrass the former secretary of state at the end of the campaign. Clint Watts, a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, has worked with two researchers to follow Russia’s propaganda since 2014. He said:
‘They want to essentially erode faith in the U.S. government or U.S. government interests. This was their standard mode during the Cold War. The problem is that this was hard to do before social media.’
PropOrNot is a nonpartisan group of researchers with expertise in technology, military, and foreign policy. The organization will release their stunning results in the near future. These researchers found evidence of the Russian disinformation attack, which U.S. citizens viewed 213+ million times.
The executive director of PropOrNot would speak only anonymously and said:
‘The way that this propaganda apparatus supported Trump was equivalent to some massive amount of a media buy. It was like Russia was running a super PAC for Trump’s campaign. . . . It worked.’
George Washington University’s (GWU) Elliott School of International Affairs foreign affairs expert and professor, Robert Orttung said:
‘They use our technologies and values against us to sow doubt. It’s starting to undermine our democratic system.’
The Rand Report said the Russians’ internet attacks were a “firehose of falsehood” due to their strength, speed, and relentlessness.
Former Russian journalist and GWU researcher Sufian Zhemukhov said:
‘For them, it’s actually a real war, an ideological war, this clash between two systems. In their minds, they’re just trying to do what the West does to Russia.’
The Russians may have won their coup to choose the president of our country. Unfortunately, most of us are entirely innocent victims of this cyber war.