Election 2020 and Russian Propaganda

  • Mike Pompeo announced hefty reward to identify parties involved in the US Election meddling.
  • Russia has been known for troll farms.
  • The ads for trolls became more sophisticated.

This November, the US will hold its presidential election. The election campaign has been challenging, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The US surpassed over 5 million cases, which is a quarter of all the cases reported in the world. Hence, it is highly likely the vote will be held via mail-in ballots.

The propaganda of the Russian Federation is propaganda that promotes views, perceptions or agendas of the government of Russia. Russia has been accused of using social media platforms to spread messages of propaganda to a global audience by spreading fake news as well as putting out advertisements and creating pseudo-activist movements.

However, Russia launched a propaganda campaign ahead of the US election. It is advising its citizens to not communicate with the West. The campaign coincides with last week’s announcement by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

The State Department on August 6th made a statement that it would offer a $10 million reward to anyone who could provide information on individuals working with foreign governments to interfere in US elections through cyber operations. It is a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

According to a “wanted” notice from the State Department:

“The ability of persons, as well as foreign powers, to interfere in or undermine public confidence in United States elections, including through the unauthorized accessing of election and campaign infrastructure, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

Furthermore, Russia started claiming on August 10th, that text messages offering to report known facts of interference in the US election began to arrive on Thursday evening. There is also a link to the questionnaire page in the SMS messages, which must be filled in if the person has something to report.

According to the Russian Foreign Service, “Unwanted text messages are necessary for the state Department to raise awareness at the international level. This is a global campaign conducted in several languages,” the Department said. The message read as follows: “The United States pays up to $10 million for any information about foreign interference in American elections.”

The 2020 United States presidential election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Voters will select presidential electors who in turn will vote on December 14, 2020, to either re-elect the Republican incumbents, Donald Trump and Mike Pence, or the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, and his Vice Presidential running mate.

Russia has been known for its use of troll farms and interference. There are specific ads looking for trolls. However, since the troll farm in St Petersburg has been busted, it has evolved and apparently has a new registered name.

Additionally, trolling operations have evolved since 2014-2015 period. Now such job ads are hidden under the operative title “copywriter.” One of the Russian sites that has such ads is TurboText.ru. It has over 250,000 registered users, and specializes in paid comments on forums and social media.

In order to register on the forum and get access to the jobs, you have to pass a Russian test first, prior to gaining access to the jobs. It should be noted that not all jobs on there are political trolling. There are many vacancies to post fake reviews for products, Facebook, YouTube, or VKontakte.

Nevertheless, some are disguised as political commentator ads. Russia just got more creative in such advertising. Nevertheless, the recruitment is ongoing. Meddling into US elections by hostile foreign governments should be punished accordingly.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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