Russian operatives couldn’t have asked for better tools than Facebook and Twitter to spark conflict and deepen divisions within Americans, experts say. Never before could they fan propaganda with such ease and speed and needle the people most vulnerable to misinformation with such precision.
“They’re using the same playbook; it’s just a new medium,” said Clint Watts, a former FBI agent and a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University. “Social media is where you do this stuff now. It wasn’t possible during the Cold War.”
At the root of the strategy are the algorithms social networks employ to encourage more engagement — the comments, likes and shares that generate advertising revenue for their makers.