Propaganda Watch: Russian Social Media Ads–1/26/2020

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 2016-q2/2016-06 folder.

When I sat down to type this, it was originally going to be about the Black Matters group and their general posts. However, while going through the ads I found one touting Micah White the “only American founder of Occupy Wall Street” giving instructions on how to start a revolution in ad p(1)0002053:

With the actual ad image redacted, I went down the rabbit hole to see what they could be linking to. It turns out White did an interview for Black Matters. He says he had no idea they were a Russian fronted group (which I believe, considering how many other people were duped as well). But how would someone as high-profile and decorated as White get duped?

Most likely it was a combination of hubris and not seeing a threat. He knew that the interviewer had a bad grasp of the English language and the call sounded as if it were going through an international line. He justified those to himself:

“I rationalized that he must be an African immigrant living in America and that was why he was interested in protesting against racism and police brutality.”


Even when he found out it was a Russian backed group seeking to sow discord in America, White seemed more upset at the American media trying to interview him on the subject. He felt like Big Media was trying to use him as a pawn. At the same time, Russia had helped him with his previous efforts:

“In fact, although it is rarely discussed, the Occupy movement received substantial support from Russia. I remember how the state-owned RT television station (formerly Russia Today) aggressively supported the movement with hyperbolic coverage of police brutality.”


Again, let’s be fair and think of how Russia was seen in before 2016. It was the era of “I’ll have more flexibility after the election” and “The 80s called. They want their foreign policy back.” Before we can start fighting the enemy we have to recognize who they are. Sadly, White still thinks that foreign intervention in American protests is a positive thing.

THIS IS AN OPEN THREAD. Take care, and have a kind Sunday.

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