the FBI allegations paint a frightening picture of the modern power of social media that leaves us with one of two possible outcomes: either social media has become so powerful in shaping our society that, in the words of one Russian journalist, “only 90 people with $2 million” can alter the election of the head of state of the most powerful nation on earth and we are blissfully unaware of it until after the fact and must trust the platforms themselves to tell us what happened
In a world in which social media platforms are blind to bots running rampant and foreign actors enjoying free reign to influence an election and/or sow chaos in foreign countries, while terrorists actively recruit and hate speech is plentiful, there are two troubling possibilities: either the platforms are simply outmatched and lack the tools, expertise and experience to identify malicious use or they are simply looking the other way due to the additional traffic and activity those activities generate.
Forbes reaches the same conclusion that I published yesterday:
Putting this all together, if one believes that a small team of a hundred or so employees on the other side of the globe with a budget of a few million could sway an election in a way that millions of volunteers and hundreds of millions of television advertisements could not, then the opaque black box of the social media platforms has reached a frightening position of power to influence the election of the head of state of the most powerful nation on earth, without any accountability or visibility into its activities.
And again, U.S. media fell for the Russia connected propaganda:
According to an NBC report, at least 3,000 news outlets published more than 11,000 news articles embedding the Russian tweets and media personalities from major American outlets including CNN, MSNBC, Washington Post, Fox, Slate, Buzzfeed retweeted and engaged with them. Even Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey retweeted at least two Russian posts, though the company did not respond to a request for comment.
As I have said before, journalists should be acting like firewalls against propaganda, both foreign and domestic. When they source their stories to social media posts, they are acting like amateurs. There are valid reasons journalists are accused of fake news – “11,000 news articles” embedded content from a propaganda campaign. OMG. Bloggers in pajamas.