Republicans have created the most extensive online disinformation campaign in U.S. history — one intended to reelect President Trump.
[Editor’s Note: This is an extremely important article. Probably the most important article you will read this week. What the Trump campaign has achieved with social media manipulation is nothing compared to what is coming at us, including ‘deep fake’ videos designed to bend fact into fantasy . The impacts will stretch far beyond November 2020, testing and undermining the information base needed for any functioning democracy. — Mark L. Taylor]
By May Louise Kelly
All Things Considered / NPR (2/7/20)
As Democrats in Iowa and beyond try to figure out what went wrong with the state’s election app and how to move forward from this week’s debacle, Republicans are in a different place. President Trump’s team is presiding over a sophisticated, multimillion-dollar digital operation, an operation that carries his campaign’s message across just about every digital platform available. And that message, says journalist McKay Coppins, could result in the most extensive disinformation campaign in U.S. history. He’s been writing about this for The Atlantic. …
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2017. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign To Reelect The President
By McKay Coppins
The Atlantic (March 2020)
One day last fall, I sat down to create a new Facebook account. I picked a forgettable name, snapped a profile pic with my face obscured, and clicked “Like” on the official pages of Donald Trump and his reelection campaign. Facebook’s algorithm prodded me to follow Ann Coulter, Fox Business, and a variety of fan pages with names like “In Trump We Trust.” I complied. I also gave my cellphone number to the Trump campaign, and joined a handful of private Facebook groups for MAGA diehards, one of which required an application that seemed designed to screen out interlopers.
How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape our 2020 election outcome.
The president’s reelection campaign was then in the midst of a multimillion-dollar ad blitz aimed at shaping Americans’ understanding of the recently launched impeachment proceedings. Thousands of micro-targeted ads had flooded the internet, portraying Trump as a heroic reformer cracking down on foreign corruption while Democrats plotted a coup. That this narrative bore little resemblance to reality seemed only to accelerate its spread. Right-wing websites amplified every claim. Pro-Trump forums teemed with conspiracy theories. An alternate information ecosystem was taking shape around the biggest news story in the country, and I wanted to see it from the inside.
The story that unfurled in my Facebook feed over the next several weeks was, at times, disorienting. There were days when I would watch, live on TV, an impeachment hearing filled with damning testimony about the president’s conduct, only to look at my phone later and find a slickly edited video—served up by the Trump campaign—that used out-of-context clips to recast the same testimony as an exoneration. Wait, I caught myself wondering more than once, is that what happened today?…