The New York Times and other media report Russians’ use of Facebook to stir discord during the 2016 election. In reading this article, assess how outside parties can use Facebook tools to learn detailed personal data about users and target them with paid content. Assess the ability of these parties to generate content that appears to come from news outlets or independent interest groups.
Reporting on such Russian activity predates the 2016 election as Russia is known for its heavy use of Internet “trolls” and proxies to advance fake news and disinformation to destabilize leadership considered hostile to the Putin regime. It is important to study Russia’s actions in totality and juxtapose them with Soviet propaganda campaigns from the pre-digital age.
In 2004, I wrote an article for AdWeek about the need for a Department of Communications, establishing a cabinet-level presence to centralize and intensify America’s communication efforts. Some may argue that such a department could become a propaganda machine at odds with independent media. Others may say we need to counter the communications of America’s adversaries. Russia is conducting an information war. At its height, ISIS waged a pervasive information war that drew followers to its occupied territory and motivated others to commit terrorism around the world. Can America blunt these efforts without violating our principles?