It’s Not Just Trumpers Spreading Pro-Trump Propaganda On Facebook

This is extremely worrying.

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by Bob Cesca

WASHINGTON, DC -- Last week, we learned about one of the most terrifying political operations in recent memory. Journalist McKay Coppins published an article for The Atlantic about Donald Trump’s “Death Star” in Rosslyn, Virginia -- an office space in which Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, along with a staff of hundreds, is engaged in "the most extensive disinformation campaign in U.S. history."

The mission of Trump’s Death Star is to micro-target registered voters on social media with countless political advertisements and other posts designed to spread pro-Trump propaganda, in most cases straight-up lies. All in all, the operation effectively weaponizes the Russian Internet Research Agency’s attack on the 2016 election, but originating the same brand of awfulness domestically and under the full control of the Trump machine.

We also learned that the Republican National Committee, which has merged with the Trump campaign, possesses around 3,000 data points on every American voter. That’s you. That’s me. That’s every living American who’s registered. These data points include your biases, your flaws, your preferences -- everything that might be pulled from your social media presence, and which Mark Zuckerberg allowed to be harvested without our permission. And speaking of Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder decided after meeting with Trump that it’d be fine and dandy to continue allowing on the platform political ads that contain lies.

The idea is to manipulate voters into willingly circulating the pro-Trump, anti-Democratic lies without flinching, turning Facebook users into distributors of free media -- of lies and propaganda. There’s so much more to the story -- way more -- so I urge you to read it carefully from top to bottom. It might be the most important political news story of the year.

Since I first wrote about the Death Star last week, I’ve heard from quite a few readers on the left who condemned the dumbness of Trump supporters for spreading Trump agitprop -- for falling for the obvious deception. 

But it’s not just Red Hats who are falling for Trump’s propaganda.

Over the weekend, I posted a meme (ironically, I posted it on Facebook) in which I urged my friends/followers to become better consumers of digital information. “New rule for political Facebook,” I wrote, “When in doubt, assume it’s propaganda until proven otherwise.” In other words, we have to stop automatically assuming a link or news article or even a video is on-the-level. If it’s not from a major network or publication, the information therein should be regarded as guilty of being propaganda until proven innocent. Without any filters, we’re vulnerable. We don’t blindly put random food in our mouths, why would we put random information in our brains? It’s common sense, especially these days.

I posted the meme in the context of a Mike Bloomberg story that began on Twitter and was being shared around without links and without being independently verified. The story turned out to be true, but, again, it was flying around social media before being confirmed. 

In fact, one of my Facebook followers posted a link in the comments under my meme -- again, a meme I posted about not sharing pro-Trump propaganda. The link was, of course, about the Bloomberg story. But when I checked the link, it pointed to a site called “Newsthud.” If you’ve never heard of Newsthud, you’re not alone because it’s exactly the kind of site we shouldn’t be sharing online. Here’s why.

It turns out, Newsthud is a pro-Trump propaganda site, and it was being shared under one of my statuses by a fellow liberal just because it appealed to my Facebook follower’s opposition to- and bias against Mike Bloomberg.

Every story on the site represented bad news for liberals and Democrats, and good news for Trump. Among the top trending stories that day: liberal activist Alyssa Milano’s show gets canceled; Trump shares a hilarious video; Pelosi’s financial disclosure problems; Trump and Melania Wow Crowd In Daytona With All-American Show; Amy Klobuchar flip-flopped on something; Pelosi flies into a rage; Pete Buttigieg linked to a fake Twitter account; and so on. None of the stories were flagrantly opinionated, but each story appears to have been selected to show the Democrats in disarray, while painting Trump as the good guy here to save the day. It’s a long-existing Fox News technique, wheeled out during its straight news segments: instead of spewing opinions, news items are deliberately curated to give off a negative impression of the Democrats. Clever, right?

My Facebook follower grabbed the link to the Bloomberg article on “Newsthud” believing that because it confirmed what he wanted it to confirm, and because it seemed legitimate since it contained a tweet from Nate Silver, then it must be legit. It wasn’t. Yet he shared this link without asking himself where it came from, and in the process, it ended up being seen by other people, potentially reinforcing or establishing negative ideas about Bloomberg, who could very easily become the Democratic nominee, facing Trump in the general election.

Oh, and Newsthud? It’s physical address is in London, and the slogan is “News for Conservatives.” But if it helps you to tear down the Democrats who aren’t your favorite candidate, I guess that’s all fine, right?

This is how the horrendousness begins. This is how Trump will win. Not only are both sides vulnerable to sharing propaganda on social media, but, on the left, we’re sharing stories that could seriously damage Democratic candidates, one of whom will be the only human standing between us and a second Trump term. Unless we stop doing this, especially knowing we’re facing "the most extensive disinformation campaign in U.S. history," Trump has already won again, and the end of the American republic has arrived, in part due to our kneejerk irresponsibility and thoughtlessness. Time to wise up, or kiss all of this goodbye. 

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