Honeymoon with Facebook long over; users must be more cynical

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The early, carefree sharing of cat pictures and jokes have given way to learning that our old cold war enemies haven’t given up on Nikita Khruschev’s vow, “we will bury you.”

Instead of nuclear weapons, however, they’ve resorted to tactics used by Caesar — divide ut regnes — “divide and conquer.”

Exposed during the 2016 election, the same actors, probably Russia, have become more sophisticated, according to the social networks they exploited.

Facebook announced Tuesday that it had uncovered “sophisticated" efforts, to manipulate U.S. politics through “coordinated” and “inauthentic” political behavior.

Facebook didn’t directly link the activity to Russia or the upcoming mid-term elections, but said it had removed 32 fake accounts on Facebook and Instagram.

“Facebook has important roles as a platform for Americans to engage in free and vigorous debate, and as a tech leader that can help expose America’s adversaries who engage in information operations,” said Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse. “Today, Facebook took a significant step in making this information public and it should continue working to quickly identify who is behind this. Here’s what we already know: Russia and China understand that successful information operations don’t create new problems but exploit existing fissures – that’s why Moscow is working to divide Americans by stoking both sides of nearly every culture war. We know that Russia is coming back in 2018, 2020, and beyond. Americans in Washington and in Silicon Valley have work to do.”

Interference in the American election process should be something upon which people of any political stripe can agree.

Nearly 300,000 people followed at least one of the newly banned accounts, potentially enough votes to sway many elections.

Americans must learn not to be manipulated by inflammatory postings intended to appeal to base instincts rather than rational decision-making.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: