Get that image of the cute wild hair characters that sing Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling” all day. I’m talking about the real-life Internet “Trolls” and the grazing fields on foreign soil that are contaminating the ideals of this country. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia had in fact orchestrated a multi-pronged cyber offensive on the 2016 Presidential Election to discredit candidate Hilary Clinton and help now President Donald Trump win.
Long story short, the debated definition of Troll Farms are organizations whose employees or members attempt to create conflict and disruption in an online community by posting deliberately inflammatory or provocative comments. The most well-known Troll Farm, located in Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s hometown of St. Petersburg, is the Internet Research Agency (Now known as The Federal News Agency). The New York Times Magazines says the FNA has now become known for employing hundreds of Russians to post pro-Kremlin propaganda online under fake identities in order to create the illusion of a massive army of supporters. This agency has now made American social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook as its stomping grounds to wreak havoc on our values by tampering with major issues in the news, including last year’s Election.
A very destructive blow that FNA has taken credit for is by acting as the Tennessee Republican Party by creating there own Twitter handle @TEN_GOP. Gaining as many as 150,000 followers before being deactivated in August, 2017, POTUS, in addition to many other White House staff members, including spokesperson Kellyanne Conway, campaign digital director, Brad Parscale, and son Donald Trump, Jr., retwetting posts from fake accounts including one from September of this year, saying “We love you, Mr. President!,” where the Commander-In-Chief replied:
Congress is now learning from this situation by trying to come up with solutions to prevent anything like this from happening again.
Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mark Warner (D-VA) have introduced a bill called the Honest Ads Act. If passed, the bill will require sites like Google, Facebook, and Twitter to keep a public registry showing the name and contact information of any individual or entity that spends more than $500 on political ads in a year in a push to make it easier for people to see information about who paid for the political ads they see online. Republican Senator, John McCain, says action like this is “more important than ever to strengthen our defenses against foreign interference in our elections.”
In addition to Congress, the Alliance for Securing Democracy, which is a bipartisan project to counter Russian disinformation, is also helping to prevent Russian influence on the Internet. This transatlantic organization had identified over 600 accounts on Twitter, communicating inaccurate material about the #TakeAKnee NFL debate.
To all who are reading this, I encourage you to proceed with caution while looking at content on the Internet and on your favorite social media platforms. The writer may not be who they say they are.