This is a bit long, but it would be a useful read for anyone but be sure to read it all as the key points are in THE GOOD STUFF with information about the fake posts on Facebook like the attached photo.
THE PERSONAL STUFF
The election was a real issue for me. I didn’t trust either one as well as I didn’t think either one had good character. For me, it came down to experience.
Trump’s business dealings were well known for those who had followed his career as I had for the past 30+ years. His persona was huge, but the details were less encouraging as he basically was a business manipulator who bilked thousands out of money and dozens of companies not paid for goods and services. His reputation among bankers was so bad, he couldn’t get a loan in NYC and the U.S., so he went to get financing from Russian banks and oligarch’s. This information has been out there for ‘years’.
Clinton on the other hand was someone who was manipulative, secretive and ambitious. I’m still convinced she might have been involved in the death of that man in Mississippi. If there had been ‘anyone’ running on the Libertarian ticket that I had ‘any’ confidence in, I would have gone the 3rd party route but Gary Johnson was totally unacceptable.
We had NO good candidate in the final election which is a total disgrace for this country.
My two favorites were John Kasich, current Governor of Ohio, and Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida. Both were accomplished men with legislative experience and I truly believe most Republicans today wished they had voted for either of them. But Trump overwhelmed both with social media insult campaigns that too many Republican voters simply loved as it was like reality TV! In effect, they got caught up in the hype and didn’t truly look at the qualifications. Too bad as both men were much better candidates than Trump. If Joe Biden had run on the Democratic ticket, I could have supported him. The commonality of Kasich, Bush and Biden is that all three are more centrist with the proven ability to reach across the aisle to get things done. Compromise is NOT a dirty word.
But, as we all know, our only choices were Trump and Clinton, so it came down to which one had the ability to govern. For me that was clearly Clinton as she had a huge advantage in legislative and government experience whereas Trump was the ‘outsider’ who said he would ‘drain the swamp’ which appealed to everyone as our government doesn’t have a high opinion among most people. Yet the swamp has gotten even swampier (is that even a word?) since his election.
THE GOOD STUFF!
Let’s talk about the Russian meddling in our campaign.
Sure, there has been no proven evidence that the Russian’s hacked into our election grid and changed votes directly. That is true! So, let’s talk about what Putin was doing as the Russians have done for the past 10+ years since Putin came into power. After all, he was a KGB agent and knew all about spreading misinformation.
The Russians has been using multiple troll farms to spread misinformation to influence elections, not just in the U.S. but in dozens of other countries. This was primarily under the Internet Research Agency located in Russia. If you don’t know what a troll farm is, you are not alone. Basically, it is a warehouse where there are dozens of people on computers who work from content scripts to insert created graphics and text to influence people though various media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. And the Russians had multiple farms in different Russian cities and some other countries.
On Facebook alone, the company announce that it’s analysis has shown that over 148 million people in the United States view one or more of over 3,000 different fake posts. The other social media networks
have not released any data, that I know of, with the estimated viewings of the fake posts on their sites but you can bet it would be in the 10’s of millions.
Spread misinformation? Influence elections? What the heck are you talking about Luke?
Look at the photo below which is a screenshot of a fake post on the Heart of Texas Facebook page. This is one of the Facebook pages setup by one of those Russian social media farms and got a huge Facebook following from those who favored secession of Texas from the U.S., white supremist, anti-immigration and other far-right followers.
Now if you are a veteran and you read this post, I’m confident that a ‘lot’ of veterans would look at it and say, “well I am not voting for that bitch!” That is influence peddling. Is it any wonder that veterans voted for Trump 2-1 over Clinton? I could post dozens of screenshots of negative posts and it covers a wide gamut of attacks from conservative groups that did not support Clinton, which liberal groups that did support Clinton but supported Bernie Sanders, how Clinton compromised our national security with her email server and why did she delete thousands of emails from her server (hell, I delete about 10k-15k every year from my own computer), Clinton was involved in the Benghazi coverup, Clinton allowed those 4 men to die in Benghazi (FYI, if you understood military logistics and communications over different times zones, you would know how ridiculous this accusation really is), Clinton makes millions from their charity foundation (definitely not true if anyone cared to read the federal filings as it is all publicly available) and other accusations / criticisms.
Now before you go thinking, “Luke, you just love Clinton”, just remember, I am only using her as an example of what could happen to ‘anyone’ running for office in this country. As far as my voting for her, that was a ‘lessor of evils’ vote. We may disagree on which one that was, but I am NO Clinton fan. If it had been Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, I would be using examples of fake posts about them. The reasons the Russian’s didn’t like Clinton is that she was viewed as an adversarial candidate who had a history of being tough on the Russian’s whereas Trump showered Putin with admiration. Hell, if I had been Putin, I’d do everything I could to derail Clinton and get Trump elected! LOL For the record, I have voted for Republican candidates in all national, state, local election races, except for three where I did vote for the Democratic candidate, since 1968. I consider myself a right-centrist.
However, back to the influence peddling using just Facebook’s statistics that 148M people viewed fake posts by these Russian social media farms. This gets into some statistics so pay attention.
Trump won the electoral college vote by 70K votes in three states, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. The eligible voters in those states are Pennsylvania – 8,436,596, Wisconsin – 3,548,780 and Michigan – 7,737,250. That is a total of 19,722,626 voters. However, not all of them voted. Those who voted in those states are Pennsylvania – 5,970,118, Wisconsin – 2,113,544 and Michigan – 4,874,619. That is a total of 12,958,281 voters. Just for simplicity sake, let’s round that off to 13M voters.
If we ‘only’ use the total U.S. eligible voters for the 2016 elections, that is 230,585,915 voters so let’s round that off to 231M. If we divide the 231M by 13M, we get 5.6% of the U.S. eligible voters voted in the 2016 elections in those three states. Now let’s take 5.6% of the 148M people who view any Facebook fake posts which yields 8,288,000 so let’s round that off to 8M people in those 3 states who could have viewed the Facebook fake posts. Next, we must discount by how many people do not access the internet. In 2016, that was about 13% of the population. So that would be 1,040,000 of that 8M which leaves about 7M of the voters in those three states who access the internet. Now we must factor in how many people, on average, visit Facebook at least once a week. Facebook statistics show that 81% of online users view a Facebook page once a week or more often. Let’s take that 7M and multiply by 81% which yields 5,670,000 voters in those 3 states who viewed a fake post on Facebook during the election campaign period. Now if we take 5,670,000 and divide by that 77,744-vote difference, that is 72 total votes for each vote that made the difference.
So, the ‘real’ question is, could 1 of out 72 people have been influenced by a fake post? I, for one, say it is not only conceivable but likely. After all, just look at that one image that I have included and think that if 72 people viewed that post, could that sway 1 vote from Clinton to Trump as our President? I’m pretty sure it could.
What about the 2018 mid-terms or 2020 elections or maybe 2024, 2028, 2032 elections. The Russians are ‘definitely’ going to try again! Why stop when you’re getting what you want!
Now I know I have probably upset a bunch of Trump supporters BUT before you get your panties in a wad, let’s totally take Donald Trump out of the discussion and replace it with ‘any’ presidential candidate, even Kasich or Bush, who could have gotten favorable treatment from Russian influence peddling. I think you know where I’m going. It’s not Trump that is the issue. It is the issue of Russian interfering in our elections.
Our democracy is under attack.