New York Times Reveals That "Russia Ads" Were Mostly Made By Americans

Tyler Durden's picture

The more details that emerge about Russia’s “sophisticated” efforts to sway the November election in favor of President Donald Trump, the more ridiculous Sen. Mark Warner’s aggressive rhetoric sounds. But instead of fading away, upcoming testimony from Facebook, Twitter and maybe Google will likely keep the story on life support for the foreseeable future, especially now that Congress has succeeded in browbeating all three of the tech giants mentioned above to admit that Russian agents were buying advertising or otherwise disseminating targeted propaganda on their platforms.

In its latest piece exploring the innerworkings of the Russia-led Facebook campaign to “sow discord” in the American electorate, the New York Times makes a stunning revelation - though its implications are clearly lost on America’s paper of record.

Almost all of the content promoted by the Russia-backed Facebook groups was created by Americans, much of it by conservative news websites like the Conservative Tribune.

To wit…

“A New York Times examination of hundreds of those posts shows that one of the most powerful weapons that Russian agents used to reshape American politics was the anger, passion and misinformation that real Americans were broadcasting across social media platforms.

In other words, the Russia groups did little more than amplify political messages that were already deafeningly broadcast by the grassroots movement that emerged to support President Donald Trump during his quest for the Republican nomination, and later, the presidency.

Given the small dollar amounts spent on these campaigns, it’s difficult to imagine that these pages had a measurable impact on public opinion. In fact, most of the original sources of content that was repurposed by the Russians garnered far more views on their own platforms.

Still, that hasn’t stopped some academics from implying that the impression on voters was much more impactful than the facts would suggest.

“This is cultural hacking,” said Jonathan Albright, research director at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism. “They are using systems that were already set up by these platforms to increase engagement. They’re feeding outrage – and it’s easy to do, because outrage and emotion is how people share.”

As has been widely reported, groups that have been identified by Facebook as being clandestinely created by Russians reflected a range of political views. For example, pages that carried pro-Black Lives Matter messages, or content highlighting discrimination against the US’s Muslim population

One of those groups repurposed a video showing New Yorkers standing idly by while a man in traditional Muslim garb is harassed by an actor pretending to be a bully.

When the creator of the video found out it had been “ripped” by one of the Russia-backed pages, he asked that the video be removed – not because he disagreed with the framing of the page’s messaging, but because he believed the page was stealing his views.

Notably, that video – which appeared on the Russian Facebook page called “United Muslims of America” – received far fewer views than the creator’s original post.

“The video ends with Mr. Shah pointing out New York’s hypocrisy: The city claims to be a “melting pot,” but no one intervened while he was getting harassed. Mr. Shah’s original video, posted on YouTube in June 2016, was a viral hit that attracted more than three million views. A week after he posted, United Muslims of America copied the video to its group page without the original YouTube link, a process known as ripping. There, Mr. Shah’s video became the Russian page’s most popular post, earning more than 150,00 interactions.

Lower in the story, the Times shared an anecdote about a conservative blogger who inadvertently shared a “fake news” story published by one of the Russian pages. When confronted by the Times, the blogger scoffed at the paper’s suggestion that he played a role in a nefarious propaganda campaign.

“I usually publish an article several times a week, to keep driving the narrative,” Mr. Swanson said in an interview. He was not bothered, he said, by becoming an unwitting cog in the Russian propaganda machine. “You know we do the same damn thing over there,” Mr. Swanson said. “What do you think – we’re saints?”

In other words, many Americans are seeing right through Congress and the mainstream media’s characterization of “Russian interference” as a sophisticated propaganda campaign targeted at swing state voters.

Given the fact that the overhyped Russia ads are essentially crudely crafted memes that had already been widely disseminated on social media, we wonder if Sen. Mark Warner and Rep Adam Schiff still plan to release the ads to the public.

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BennyBoy's picture


Sen. Mark Warner and Rep Adam Schiff are part of the USA Upright Moral Brigade.

They are protecting, curating you and me from the horrible, dangerous, truth.

I for one know they are pure and true to all large campaign contributors.

Shemp 4 Victory's picture

"Oh fuck, Project Veritas just gave us a boot in the gonads! Quick - break out the Truth Dauber® and run something true that everyone has already known for awhile. We need to spackle over this pronto!"

"This is cultural hacking,” said Jonathan Albright, research director at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism. “They are using systems that were already set up by these platforms to increase engagement. They’re feeding outrage – and it’s easy to do, because outrage and emotion is how people share."

OK, this guy can't be serious. He's either a fraudulous charlatan or holds a doctorate in bullshitting. Either way, the result is the same. If Columbia University hired this guy as a research director of their Toe The Line Center for Digital Journalism, it speaks volumes about both them and "journalism" in general.

Billy the Poet's picture

I've been running Internet ads for almost two decades but one doesn't have to have that experience to know what clickbait is. We've all seen the ads that feature some hot button topic often with a flashing graphic asking you to agree or disagree. These ads are often political during the election season. They exist because there is a market for clicks of any kind.

I would guess that most of the political ads coming from Russia and many other countries are this type of ad. Lots of folks in Russia, Ukraine, India or wherever eke out a respectable income by local standards through advertising. I try to be a little more considerate of my visitors and limit the types of ads, try to block auto-play videos, etc. But back in the day I made some good coin with clickbait.

That's all it is.

MozartIII's picture

Howdy to all my Russian Brothers!

Giant Meteor's picture

Emotions make great servants, but poor masters ..

Even IF it WERE true, this "Russian interference" in the last election were it true, the hypocrisy is so deep, contemptable, and utterly off the deep end of bat shit crazy, well it's hard to put into words exactly. 

As I reflect on the many ways that deep state and shadow government has meddled in the affairs of other countries, nations, up to and including murder, fomenting revolution, rigged elections, propping up tin pot dictators, illegal wars, and occupations, usurpations, torture, murder, lying regularly to, keeping secrets from it's own citizens, as matter of routine, SPYING on it's own citizens as a matter of policy, and spying on every other nation as regular habit ..

Well, one must realize Jack's total lack of surprise ..

The fact that this shit is actually still being debated at this point, is the furthest height of absurdity, 

On the other hand, seeing how the entire Russian narrative, meme was a monumental charade from jump street , I'd say the entire pittiless farce has epically  failed, lacking in any meaningful content and / or  originality whatsoever.

Better luck next time psych-ops gang  ..

Gonzogal's picture

Lets not foget Obombers trip to the UK telling Britons that they must vote against it and threatening "economic disaster" for any trade deals needing to be "reconsidered" and put "at the bottom of the line".

Obomber made it LEGAL for the USG to use propaganda against americans:


mc888's picture

“This is cultural hacking,” said Jonathan Albright, research director at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism. “They are using systems that were already set up by these platforms to increase engagement.

Which is exactly what MSM does.

They’re feeding outrage – and it’s easy to do, because outrage and emotion is how people share.”

Which is the only way Democrats know how to campaign.

uhland62's picture

Is he Madeleine Albright's son? Then be careful.

gregga777's picture

The definition of PhD is "knows everything about nothing."

DirtySanchez's picture

I believe Zuckerberg and Adam Schiff both had their pussies played with by Weinstein.

Arnold's picture

Their nude pics never went viral for good reason.

chunga's picture

Have the newshounds at NYT written about Assange's offer of proof the Russians had nothing to do with this nonsense?

WTFUD's picture

Have thought about this one carefully; it's becoming glaringly obvious by the day that President Trump is as unwilling as Obama to expose this Charade/Ponzi for what it is ( Deep State Degeneracy run amok ) and as a consequence, participating in bringing down one or more of the Pillars of US Hegemony. The country is based on lies and deceit for its very survival!

What was the question again?

chunga's picture

That's a big pet peeve of mine. I hate that.

uhland62's picture

You can only be hegemon as long as you cough up the $$$. So talk to Yellen to oil the printers and buy green ink in bulk. Friends and allies tend to scatter when the goodies stop flowing.

AurorusBorealus's picture

As I have pointed out previously, the U.S. corptocracy had best tread carefully on this idea of "foreign influence."  I live in South America.  One third of my neighbors have cable television.  Another one third have DirecTV (a U.S.-based company).  The channels that come over both the local cable company and DirecTV include CNN, NBC, NBCsports, ESPN, Fox News, Fox Sports, CBS, ABC, HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax.  Local political campaigns are covered by CNN, Fox, and all these major (U.S.-based networks).  Most people here have Facebook accounts, watch Youtube (as much as they watch TV), and have Twitter accounts.  Should governments in South America take a position similar to that which the U.S. has taken with regard to foreign news services and foreign ad buys on international platforms, such as Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter, all of these U.S.-based companies would find themselves minus 400 million or so users, and Hollywood can say "farewell" to many millions in overseas revenue, which it desperately needs now that many in the U.S. have found their petty morality lectures to be tedious.

historian40's picture

You would be better off if they were closed down.  That is the backdoor for conquest.  Enslave the mind and the body follows by default.

AurorusBorealus's picture

It does not make much difference.  The people here do not believe most of the news that they see on TV.  They know that most of it is propaganda, whether it comes from local sources or international, and no one thinks that people need to be protected from various points of view.  It is only those who spend all their time trying to produce propaganda and study how to manipulate people that actually think people can be easily manipulated.  Rational people realize that manipulating people is not so easy, and the outcome can often be different than what is intended: such as producing a generation of racist whites by constantly trying to convince all whites that they are an evil and oppressive "race" and all other "races" are good and wonderful.

sheikurbootie's picture

We need more safe spaces for these liberal losers.

WTFUD's picture

For a Regime ( Deep State Vichy DC ) that spends 10's of $billions directly and 100's of $billions indirectly per annum on MSM & NSA-Spookesville Propaganda Dark Pools in order to keep its own Citizens dumbed down to the max, it sure is mighty rich that they're crying foul at anything put out there off-script, further highlighting not only their contempt for but also their fear of us.

yrad's picture

"Cultural hacking"

Oh, fuck me with a snowflake!

Neochrome's picture

What kind of fucked up fascist society is panicking about ideas, wherever they come from and whatever they are? Answer, the one that treats it's citizens as nothing more than a bunch of easily manipulated morons as they are brought up by that same society. Manipulating public opinion is clearly not a crime, the real crime seems to be when the manipulation is not sanctioned by a fascist PTB. 

Just imagine if people are brought up to see through the propaganda, oh the horror...

uhland62's picture

They don't panic about ideas per se, only those that aren't approved. 

Whodathunkit's picture

All the 'experts' and the media are doing/saying is how fucking stupid most Americans are to believe shit on the internet. Hurts to understand that point.

Victor999's picture

It is the internet that is keeping truth alive today.  Were it not for the internet, you would be reading the Wall Street Journal/ Washington Post, or watching CNN ONLY for your news and analysis.  How would that suit you?

Giant Meteor's picture

What kind of fucked up fascist society is panicking about ideas, wherever they come from and whatever they are?

Orwells vision ..

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.

This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. ...In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” 

Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda, referred to in his obituary as "the father of public relations".

It seems as tho some folks were really, really paying attention ...

Victor999's picture

The entire history of public relations, propaganda, and population manipulation from Hitler to the CIA is largely based on this Jew's views and attitudes about the human mind and how it can be molded.  How can one tribe so minimally represented by numbers in the world be so powerful, people might ask who do not understand the power of deceipt.  The Tribe is dedicated to war on the world by deceipt - they are its masters.  Jesus correctly noted even in His day, that their father is the Father of Lies, Satan.  And the countries that have been affected by their impact on society thoughout the years since then can attest to that. 

TeraByte's picture

Were Russians capable of manipulating so easily everybody´s elections, why have they not picked better candidates of their liking for an alleged goal of world domination. Too much weed and ice around, what has triggers such a paranoiacs psychosis.

Bombshelter's picture

Excellent point!  If they 'manipulated' the ascension of the incumbent they must be pretty sad at the outcome of their efforts!!!  But considering the spend I guess they would at least feel they got value for money (or lack of it!).  Sigh.  


Cozy Vanilla Sugar's picture

They had a choice between a known enemy (Clinton) and an unknown. no other choices, they didn't choose the candidates.

lew1024's picture

If they really were so good at it, the USSR would still exist. After all, they had more complete control of the media then than the CIA does now.

Really tough to believe that any other foreign country has Israel's power to control US political opinion.

JailBanksters's picture

I think if you looked a little bit closer, you'll find they are

Americans all right, American Jews, American Jews with Dual-Passports


rew2's picture

Maybe we should just let the Russians vote directly in our elections.  After all, we claim to have jurisdiction over their country.

Cozy Vanilla Sugar's picture

Top Russian questions at the US ballot box:

1. Why is there more than one name on this paper?
2. How many rubles if I choose this one?
3. And how many for this one?

RightLineBacker's picture

Let me see if I got this correct:

Anti-Conservative Lying MSM pushes Liberal, anti-Conservative lies and the butt-hurt Liberal, anti-Conservative Liberals believe it.

No Shit!


Aussiekiwi's picture

The awesome power of the Russian people on malleable American minds....have I got the gist of the article?


If only there was some kind of super American who could think for themselves. :) Of course the entire Russian influence story is accepted by almost everybody except for a few nutty left twits and Madcow of course as rubbish.

Abaco's picture

And a hearty welcome as well.

gregga777's picture

Sen. Mark Warner and Rep Adam Schiff are MORONS if they think the Russian interference narrative is playing to their advantage. It really illustrates that they are all out of touch MORONS.

gregga777's picture

What happened to Boris Alatovcrap?

uhland62's picture

Don't know but maybe you can use a search engine? There are quite a few on offer.

I am in Australia and have certainly expressed my disgust about Hillary Clinton more than once. I do have a stake in US politics because our politicians tell us we are joined at the hip. I can obviously not vote in the US but do posting instead. Once we are no longer joined at the hip I will retreat into the shrubbery.

Surely, there aren't naivlings out there who interpreted my anti-Hillary comments from Australia as coming from Russia?