Propaganda Watch: Russian Social Media Ads–2/16/19

Russian President Vladimir Putin superimposed into a Russian Flag. Image by Lenny Ghoul.

This is part of an ongoing series where I review some of the ads purchased by the Russians. In doing so I hope we can get a better understanding of what they were trying to do, and how to recognize it the next time we’re faced with propaganda.

If you want to follow along, the ads can all be downloaded here. The ads I’m using today came from the 2015-q2 folder.

Although I know intellectually that the Russian ads were meant to sow discord among the population, it’s still jarring to see it as blatant as these two ads. As mentioned before, racial tensions were a popular target for the ads. It makes sense for them to use the Confederate flag as a tool for division. Example one is this ad sent as part of their “Black Matters” Facebook group (ad p(1)0002135):

It was run at the same time as this ad for Patriot US (ad p(1)0002432):

Same time, two different sides of the issue. It’s possible that a person would come across both on their feed back to back.

Speaking of the unexpected, though, while going through the ads I discovered which modern US politician was the first to be praised in Russian ads. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Trump, or Clinton, or anyone from the 2016 election, but Kamala Harris (ad p(1)0002588):

I will share more interesting ads I come across in other posts. For now, enjoy this Open Thread and remember, we can beat the Russians by not hating one another.

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