Clint Watts, who helped create a website that tracks Russian propaganda on social media, said he can’t yet say with certainty that Russian trolls were a major force in the NFL protest debate — after all, plenty of Americans also weighed in. But he suspects Lankford is right.
Fox Fellow Clint Watts in U.S. News on Russian Trolls and NFL
Watts, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said it would be consistent with other documented propaganda campaigns that originated in Russia, such as the use of Facebook to push messages for and against the Black Lives Matter movement.
“The goal is heightened tensions,” Watts said. “They’ll use organic American content to amplify to American audiences. They would much rather use organic American content. It hits the audience better and it’s cheaper and more effective.”
Trump, who triggered the debate on Friday, is the perfect vehicle for “active measures” campaigns, a Soviet term for information warfare designed to destabilize democracies from the inside, Watts said.
“The Russians can just sit back and say: ‘Amplify on both sides. Make people angry.’ And it works, man, God, it works,” Watts said.
He also said: “The goal is to sow division in America.”