New McCarthyism sweeping Democratic Party overestimates minimal 2016 Russian social media activism
NOVEMBER 14, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Advancing the Democratic Party’s new-found McCarthyism over the theme of “Russian Collusion,” Sen. Al Franken authored an op-ed piece in the Guardian last week asking for government censorship over Internet media content giants Google, Facebook and Twitter.
Franken appeared to be an over-reaction to testimony given by legal counsel for Google, Facebook, and Twitter, to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 31, in which each of the Internet social media content giants reported statistics that showed minimal Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Yet, in the face of this concrete evidence, Franken seems determined to continue beating the New McCarthyism narrative advanced by Hillary Clinton and her Democratic Party supporters to explain away her devastating 2016 loss to Donald Trump.
Franken argued Hillary’s loss demanded government censorship over social media on the Internet. He wrote the following:
Last week’s hearings demonstrated that these companies may not be up to the challenge that they’ve created for themselves. In some instances, it seems that they’ve failed to take commonsense precautions to prevent the spread of propaganda, misinformation, and hate speech.
In advancing his argument for government censorship, Franken asked the following rhetorical questions:
The platforms that big tech has designed may now be so large and unruly that we can’t trust the companies to get it right when they do start paying attention. If you have five million advertisers a month using your highly sophisticated, nearly instantaneous ad platform, can you ever really know who all of them are? Can you ever catch all the signals that would seem obvious to a pair of human eyes – for example, political ads that are paid for in rubles?
“Very ominous words”
Franken got immediate push-back from Michael Snyder, a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, who penned a rebuttal in EndOfTheAmericanDream.com.
“These are very ominous words,” Snyder insisted. “So precisely what would constitute ‘propaganda,’ ‘misinformation’ or ‘hate speech’?”
Snyder pushed back, suggesting Franken’s motive really involved a plan by hard-left Democrats to censor the speech of conservatives and libertarians on the Internet, so as to create a wide-open social media field in which even two-time losers like Hillary Clinton might win the presidency in 2020.
Snyder argued that government censorship constituted a serious risk to First Amendment free speech rights. He wrote:
When you start regulating speech, you cross a very dangerous line. There is a reason why our founders guaranteed us freedom of speech in the Bill of Rights, because if we don’t have the freedom to say what we want then what do we really have left?
He argued the “government truth police” would lead us down the road to totalitarianism, a conclusion he judged is precisely what Franken wants. Snyder continued:
During the presidential election, there was a lot of talk about Hillary Clinton’s health. The mainstream media insisted that she was just fine, and they accused those of us in the alternative media that were questioning her health of engaging in “propaganda” and “misinformation”. Well, it turns out that we now know that Clinton’s health was so bad that Donna Brazile was actually consideringreplacing the nominee, and so it was actually the mainstream media that was putting out “propaganda” and “misinformation.”
Snyder argued that elite leftists like Franken are actually scared of the free exchange of ideas because that gives people far too much control over their own destiny.
“Will everything that we do on the Internet have to be evaluated for ‘truthiness’ before it is allowed to be posted?” Snyder asked. “And who decides what the ‘truth’ actually is?”
Snyder concluded by asserting that he is a big believer in the marketplace of ideas.
“I have always been convinced that if everyone is allowed to openly share what they believe that the truth will win in the end,” he insisted.
What does the evidence show?
Perhaps Sen. Franken should review the evidence Facebook, Twitter, and Google presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee, as previously reported by Infowars.com.
In their prepared testimony, each of the three social media companies attempted to estimate the extent of Russian interference during the 2016 U.S. presidential election cycle.
Facebook reported that the disinformation campaign associated with the Internet Research Agency, IRA, a Russian company located in St. Petersburg, spent approximately $100,000 on more than 3,000 Facebook and Instragram ads between June 2015 and August 2017.
Facebook’s analysis also showed that the IRA accounts used ads to promote roughly 120 Facebook Pages they had set up, which in turn posted more than 80,000 pieces of content between January 2015 and August 2017.
Facebook estimated 11.4 million people in the United State saw at least one of these ads between 2015 and 2017.
Twitter identified 36,746 accounts that generated automated, election-related content and had at least one of the characteristics we used to associate an account with Russia.
During the relevant period, those accounts generated approximately 1.4 million automated, election-related Tweets, which collectively received approximately 288 million impressions.
Twitter placed those numbers in context as follows:
- The 36,746 automated accounts that we identified as Russian-linked and tweeting election-related content represent approximately one one-hundredth of a percent (0.012%) of the total accounts on Twitter at the time.
- The 1.4 million election-related Tweets that we identified through our retrospective review as generated by Russian-linked, automated accounts constituted less than three-quarters of a percent (0.74%) of the overall election-related Tweets on Twitter at the time.
- Those 1.4 million Tweets received only one-third of a percent (0.33%) of impressions on election-related Tweets. In the aggregate, automated, Russian-linked, election-related Tweets consistently underperformed in terms of impressions relative to their volume on the platform.
Twitter estimated that fewer than 5 percent of all 360 million accounts active during the election period was identified with a foreign nation-state actor.
Google attempted to distinguish itself from the other two websites, arguing that its search engine does not lead to the same viral content activity that distinguishes Facebook and Twitter.
Google reported finding only two accounts during the election cycle that appeared to be engaged in an activity associated with known or suspected government-backed entities. These two accounts spent approximately $4,700 in connection with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Google also reported finding 18 channels on YouTube with approximately 1,100 videos that were uploaded by individuals who we suspect are associated with this effort and that contained political content.
These videos mostly had low view counts, with just 3 percent having more than 5,000 views, constituting only forty-three hours of YouTube content. While this is a relatively small amount of content in that people watch over a billion hours of YouTube congtent a day, with 400 hours of content are uploaded every minute.