Rhett Jones on how secret online influence campaigns are the future that is here now:
Based on tech companies’ own admissions, intelligence service analysis, and independent researchers evaluations, we know that Russian operatives used bots, fake accounts, and group pages to fuel an online campaign aiming to harm Hillary Clinton and boost Donald Trump in the 2016 election. By all credible accounts, that activity is still happening. And while we’ll never truly know if that activity helped the Trump campaign, there’s little reason to believe it caused harm, and Trump did win.
American politicians will inevitably employ these types of shadow tactics to make some issues and movements seem bigger than they really are through the funhouse of social media. Dan Bayens, a Kentucky-based Republican consultant, told the Times: “You’ve got Russia, which showed folks how to do it, you’ve got consultants willing to engage in this type of behavior and political leaders who apparently find it futile to stop it.”
The new reality seems much like the old reality.