Propaganda Watch: Russian Social Media Ads–5/4/19

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. All of today’s ads can be found in the 2015-q4/2015-11 folder.

Sometimes where an ad lands can tell you more than the ad itself. Most of the ads placed by the Russians led to their own pages and groups. An example from ad p(1)0000429:

We can see this ad led to BlackJourney2Justice, a Russian-owned Facebook group. However, ad p(1)0004082 had Al Jazeera as its landing page:

So far I have found no evidence that Al Jazeera was even aware of the Russian-purchased ad pointing to their site, let alone any kind of endorsement of it. I, myself, am not sure why. Perhaps, this being early on in the game, they wanted to build credibility for their own group (MuslimInst) by linking to established sites. That theory is supported by another ad from that folder, p(1)0002095:

Not only was the meeting place redacted, but the landing page as well. I can only guess this led to a non-Russian page. As we learned from the Mueller report, some names were redacted simply for privacy. These were individuals who had no idea the group they were working with was Russian-owned, and making their names public isn’t necessary. It’s very possible they wanted to ad credibility to their group by linking to an established protest. Or they simply found the protest itself to be divisive, and helpful in their quest to fracture American society.

I have no idea if any of my theories are right or not. If anyone else has theories I would love to hear them.

THIS IS AN OPEN THREAD. Take care, and have a pleasant Saturday.

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