Who could have known that the police union, the PBA, and its “Blue Lives Matter” campaign were Putin’s stooges?
Of course, this is sarcasm. The Police Benevolent Association does not support the efforts of a Russian authoritarian with no respect for human rights, it supports the efforts of a number of American authoritarians with no respect for human rights:
The most-viewed Facebook message secretly created by a St. Petersburg-based Russian troll farm was one that allegedly backed American cops.
“Back The Badge” appeared to be an authentically American community on Facebook rallying support for police officers. In fact it was Russian, a creation of the Internet Research Agency, an online propaganda mill that special counsel Robert Mueller indicted in February on conspiracy charges.
The ad itself was nondescript, a simple portal to Back The Badge’s Facebook page. It showed the group’s logo, an officer’s shield, over a background image of a cop car’s flashing blue and red lights. “Community of people who support our brave police officers,” the ad read.
That ad, released on Thursday by Democrats on the House intelligence committee, ran on Oct. 19, 2016, less than a month before the election. According to material turned over to the committee by Facebook, it appears to be the most influential single ad the troll farm is ever know to have concocted.
There is no way to decisively determine the impact of any particular advertisement or other piece of propaganda. But more people saw the Back The Badge ad than any other inauthentic account, page, or advertisement that the Internet Research Agency concocted. Facebook’s data tools, in the hands of the Internet Research Agency, ensured that it appeared in the Facebook feeds of over 1.3 million users, a fact first noted by NBC. Over 73,000 people clicked on it.
This this has always seemed more like trolling for clicks and revenue than it does a sophisticated covert intelligence operation.