The Washington Post is breathlessly reporting that the Russian government (or people who live in Russia, they make no distinction) spent a whopping $100,000 on Facebook ads trying to influence American voters.
Wow, right? I mean … $100K in Facebook ads? During a presidential election. That’s a lot of money, right?
No. Not even close.
The Post knows this. Their social media footprint is massive and they likely spend more than $100,000 every week advertising and promoting their sites. They even hint that they know they’re pulling a fast one on you with their headline: “When it comes to Facebook, Russia’s $100,000 is worth more than you think.”
That’s because what you think is right. It ain’t worth squat in the grand scheme of things. Let’s compare, shall we?
During the 2016 election, Clinton and her allies raised $1.2 billion in campaign contributions. Trump had about half of that with about $647 million.
Let’s take Clinton and Trump’s effort to sway voters and Russia’s effort and put them into context.
If Clinton’s $1.2 billion represented a straight line, it would look like this:
And President Trump’s would look like this:
And here’s a line representing what Russia’s effort looks like:
That’s right. The Kremlin – Russia – one of the most powerful countries in the world, with billions of dollars at its disposal, decided to budget less than what most two-bit websites spend on an advertising budget to manipulate the election of the most powerful country in the world.
How positively scandalous!
Of course, The Post knows this. They try to justify the hype by arguing that the money goes further – or is worth more – or something if it’s tainted with malice. Yes, malice.
Now, turn that into $100,000 and inject it with malice. And imagine being able to target this message with minute precision: say, telling black voters in swing counties that Hillary Clinton was an incorrigible racist, or enraging white, male gun lovers with her supposed plans to roll back the Second Amendment. Imagine how quickly such misinformation could spread and metastasize.
Now, listen: Unless those pesky Rooskies have figured out something nobody else has, $100,000 pretty much buys whatever you can get. You can try to target your campaign a certain way, but you’ll get what you get.
The Post goes further, saying that this $100,000 is “unsettling” because we were oblivious to it. We were?
I distinctly remember being told that the Russians were sending out propaganda via “fake news” websites all the time during the campaign. Even TFPP got caught up in the imbroglio, being falsely accused of being a shill for the Kremlin simply because we were critical of the Obama Administration and Hillary Clinton.
“Our obliviousness is unsettling enough, but the way that our Russian adversaries used it against us positively stings. After the ad sales were revealed, Facebook’s own chief security officer, Alex Stamos, shed some light on what those purchases might have looked like. “The vast majority of ads run by these accounts didn’t specifically reference the US presidential election, voting or a particular candidate,” he wrote. “Rather, the ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.”
I’m sorry, folks – but I’m not swayed by the idea that the Russian government was that interested in swaying the 2016 election when they put less money into it than they do in redecorating a room in the Kremlin.
Do you disagree? Is any money too much? Sound off below.