July 31, 2018

Choose Your Poison...

News came out today that Facebook has detected an influence operation, even as we are less than 100 days from the critical midterm elections. Activities of the operation "appeared to target divisive political issues," we're told.
The company identified the activity roughly two weeks ago as part of an ongoing investigation into election interference, its representatives said, and had removed eight Pages and 17 profiles from Facebook and seven accounts from Instagram that had been created between March 2017 and last May. Taken together, the accounts and Pages created more than 9,500 posts and more than 290,000 accounts had followed at least one of the pages, Facebook said. The pages ran 150 ads for $11,000 that were paid for in US and Canadian dollars. 
There seems to be some consensus that the Russians are behind it,at least from the politicians, although the investigation into the shenanigans is really just getting started. Intelligence officials hopefully will do their part to formally identify the bad actors. Per the article, Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council, noted
We applaud efforts by our private sector partners to combat an array of threats that occur in cyber space, including malign influence. NSC staff leads the regular and continuous coordination of the whole-of-government approach to addressing foreign malign influence and ensuring election safety.
At least some of the Pages and profiles appeared to be designed to get 'resistes' all riled up, by scheduling events like a counter-protest to a Unite the Right rally in DC in a couple of weeks.

Can I ask a question?

Why do we ask so much of Facebook and other social media companies, but so little of Fox News, Breitbart, Infowars, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity and the like? I mention these particular actors because they are generally excluded from any definition of  'mainstream media' even though Fox and their flock of right-wingers are as mainstream as they come.

Can I ask another one?

Is it worse that we have fake accounts on social media promoting 'malign influence' and divisiveness or that the American president does exactly the same thing on a daily basis?