Washington Post Names Drudge, Infowars, & Ron Paul As Anti-Clinton “Sophisticated Russian Propaganda Tools”
November 25, 2016
“The way that this propaganda apparatus supported Trump was equivalent to some massive amount of a media buy,”said the executive director of PropOrNot, who spoke on the condition of anonymity with the Post.“It was like Russia was running a super PAC for Trump’s campaign.”
Two groups of independent researchers found that Russia employed thousands of botnets, human internet “trolls” and networks of Web sites and social media accounts to inject false content into online political talk and amplify posts from right-wing sites.“They want to essentially erode faith in the U.S. government or U.S. government interests,” said Clint Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute who co-authored a report about Russian propaganda.“This was their standard mode during the Cold War. The problem is that this was hard to do before social media.”
The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of Web sites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia.Two teams of independent researchers found that the Russians exploited American-made technology platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment, as an insurgent candidate harnessed a wide range of grievances to claim the White House. The sophistication of the Russian tactics may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to crack down on “fake news,” as they have vowed to do after widespread complaints about the problem.
Please note that our criteria are behavioral. That means the characteristics of the propaganda outlets we identify are motivation-agnostic.For purposes of this definition it does not matter whether the sites listed here are being knowingly directed and paid by Russian intelligence officers, or whether they even knew they were echoing Russian propaganda at any particular point: If they meet these criteria, they are at the very least acting as bona-fide “useful idiots” of the Russian intelligence services, and are worthy of further scrutiny.
ZeroHedge qualifies as “dark gray” propaganda, systematically deceiving its civilian audiences for foreign political gain.Articles from ZeroHedge are frequently reposted by other sites, but appear on ZeroHedge first — the site’s authors are driving and shaping the stories, not merely reacting to them. An analysis of web traffic patterns and linking backs this up: ZeroHedge has a prominent place within the network of pro-Russia news and propaganda outlets.We at PropOrNot rate it: Five Shadies.