What We Know, and Don’t Know, About Russia’s Influence on American Elections

Jake Neher/WDET

News recently surfaced that Russian operatives used social media in a massive influence campaign to affect American voters during the last presidential election. They paid for ads on Facebook and Google, and created vitriolic messages on both sides of a political divide, to widen that political gap.

For instance — think of images shared around social media that vilify football players for kneeling during the national anthem, and, conversely, images that promote the “Take a Knee” campaign in favor of those same athletes.

Reports suggest the Russian campaign used the two sides of the coin to amplify and embolden how we feel about politics, and ultimately help divide us as Americans.

Is this Russian strategy of disinformation new with the dawn of social media? Or is this just another chapter in a long book of the Russian government using information as its greatest weapon against foreign adversaries?

The Soviet Union used information every day,” says Scott Shane, Washington bureau reporter for the New York Times. Shane lived in Russia in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

Shane tells Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson there’s still a lot to uncover about Russia’s infiltration of political campaigns.

The picture of what the Russians did during the election is still being filled in.”

To hear more from Shane on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.


Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

About the Author

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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