Saw This Coming From A Mile Away: Russia Ads on Facebook Not Necessarily For Trump

In general, the whole Russia Facebook ad purchase story has been a huge yawner.  In an election where Hillary Clinton and her supporting PACs spent $1.2 billion and Trump spent about half that, are we really concerned about the impact of $100,000 in ad spend on Facebook?  Has there been anyone other than Russia and the Koch Brothers who the media could seriously write stories about manipulating an election by spending 0.0055% of the total advertising in the election? If that 0.0055% really turned the election, please send me the name of their ad agency.

The really interesting part of this story is that absolutely no one has said anything about that $100,000 actually having been spent on Trump.  People talk about the story as if they obviously were for Trump, but perhaps tellingly no one has actually confirmed this.  Certainly if you had asked me to guess in June of 2016 who Russia would have been making ads for, I would not have assumed Trump rather than Hillary was a sure bet.  And then there is this today from CNN

At least one of the Facebook ads bought by Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign referenced Black Lives Matter and was specifically targeted to reach audiences in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, sources with knowledge of the ads told CNN.

Ferguson and Baltimore had gained widespread attention for the large and violent protests over police shootings of black men. The decision to target the ad in those two cities offers the first look at how accounts linked to the Russian government-affiliated troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency used geographically targeted advertising to sow political chaos in the United States, the sources said.

Hmmm.  I guess the apple does not fall far from the tree.  In the Cold War this is exactly the kind of thing the Soviets would have funded.  Though given how tribalized politics are I am not sure that spending money to target a political tribe to reinforce them in their already strongly-held beliefs is a super-productive way to spend money.  More to follow I am sure.

  • Fourmyle of Ceres

    the leftards are still in denial

    oh dear poor ikle snowflakes

    have the been triggered?

    oh well go to your safe space they have colouring books and playdoh

    there there

  • Scott

    Finally someone mentions that's Russians/soviets trying to j fluency American politics is nothing new.

  • Peabody

    Sadly, standard practice is completely ignore historical parallels when something can be used to score political points against your opponents.

  • bobby_b

    I don't remember where I read this a couple of days ago (so you can value this like you would any unconfirmed hearsay from an anon internet commenter) but the ads were not candidate-oriented at all, but issue-oriented, and at least 70% of the ads clearly favored Hillary's positions.

    Sorry, I hate not citing things, but I do remember it was from a techie website and not a normally political one.

  • cc

    I sometimes have watched commentaries on the Russian cable network RT (Russia Today). When commenting on issues in the US, I found that I simply could not decipher the point of the commentary. It was like they were talking about something different than the words themselves. Russian views of US politics may be so skewed and strange that whatever they put in ads will simply not make sense. They might very well have put ads in that supported both sides of the election, or that one can't figure out what purpose the ad serves. That is my prediction. Ads targeting Ferguson might simply have been trying to stir up more riots, which serves their purposes nicely.

  • Mercury

    Someone please give me an example of a Facebook or internet ad that Russia(!!) might have deployed to trick a dumb guy like me into voting for Trump.

    Read this fawning WaPo article from two years before the election and tell me why Russia wouldn't have preferred Hillary and her crony daisy chain of international power brokering over some loose-cannon real estate yahoo:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/for-hillary-clinton-and-boeing-a-beneficial-relationship/2014/04/13/21fe84ec-bc09-11e3-96ae-f2c36d2b1245_story.html?utm_term=.15585fa4a1ad

  • Mercury

    Oh, BTW, this is what serious foreign influence in a US presidential election actually looks like:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_United_States_campaign_finance_controversy

  • me

    Which former American presidents had their election teams meet clandestinely with Russian officials and then lied about it under oath? Maybe I am missing the precedent here?

  • Peabody

    Indeed it is impossible to find an exact match, which is why I used the term "parallels". Foreign governments supporting a particular candidate has a very rich history, and with varying amounts of US politician knowledge/involvement. A few recent examples
    Clinton and Ukraine: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/ukraine-sabotage-trump-backfire-233446
    China and Democrats: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_United_States_campaign_finance_controversy
    And this is without talking about the Clinton Foundation

    And please correct me if I'm wrong, but I know of no instances of an election team member lying under oath. They have certainly lied to the media and some Dems have tried to hint that some may have (though call me cynical for questioning if they are just trying to boost donations), however, last I checked lying to media is neither a crime nor uncommon for politicians.

    I don't like it any more than the next guy, and I dislike most Republicans as much as most Democrats. But I'm not going to get on my high horse and and pretend a single instance of possible misdeeds is such an affront to my sensibilities, when my "team" pulls the same crap. We will see when more comes to light, but so far the actions of the Trump campaign seems pretty tame in comparison. I'd rather save my righteous indignation over bigger issues or crimes with actual evidence.

    Though props for using the word "clandestine". Campaigns rarely publicly announce meetings. I'm sure they had a "clandestine" meeting to decide what color shirt and tie Trump should wear to the debate, or a "clandestine" meeting regarding which staffers should travel to New Hampshire. But hey, "clandestine" implies nefarious intent and makes for a good headline.

  • Don

    I have said REPEATEDLY told my leftist friends that they ultimately stand to have the most to lose in pushing the whole Russia meme.

    1. They have a history of defending the old Soviet Union.
    2. Mr. Obama is on record for trying to make a deal with Putin out of site of the American people.
    3. Hillary did favors for Russian oligarchs while SoS.
    4. The Clinton Foundation took a BUNCH of Russian money.
    5. Bill Clinton took a BUNCH of Russian money.
    6. If any meddling took place, it did so under Mr. Obama's Administrations' nose.

    That's just off the top of my head. If every aspect of their fever-dream came true, Mr. Trump will lose a few advisers (there is NO chance that he will be impeached, at least not until after midterms, and after that it's VERY doubtful).

    They are all still screaming things like "Traitor!" at the top of their lungs.

  • me

    Good point about closed doors being modus operandi for campaign meetings.

    One example from the lying-under-oath column: http://www.factcheck.org/2017/03/did-sessions-lie/. Jeff Sessions, our attorney general. Speaks volumes about the kind of integrity the Right strives to achieve in upholding the law.

  • HFB

    me,
    If the Sessions controversy is the only thing you can come up with, perhaps you have a better example?
    Sessions was clearly responding to the question in context-as a Trump campaign rep and not as a US gov rep. Though, for the life of me, I can't understand why he said what he did as Franken wasn't even asking if he was one of the surrogates but what Sessions would do about it if the story were true. (Um, I'd have them investigated and prosecuted? Derp.) A complete F up of the answer. Everyone ran with it even after he clarified it rather late in the game. Clearly jumping to defend himself instead of answering the question directly makes him a....politician? 🙂

  • Craig Anderson

    Russia, Koch brothers . . . how about Soros?

  • mvetsel

    Lol. I read this AFTER your BLM post. Clearly, the Russians were supporting BLM because they wanted your 10-point police body cam, etc. plan, right? Like you said, exactly what the Soviets would have picked as the most cost-effective way to cause violence, stoke racial animosity and generally wreak havoc.

    The BLM-allied "libertarians" are modern day useful idiots. Reason #37 why real libertarians just call themselves conservatives or alt-right these days.

  • The ads purport to show Black Lives Matter in a negative light. Similar to anti-immigrant ads. So yes, they were apparently pro-Trump.

    People on the internet should be familiar with sock puppet trolling.