September 10, 2017

"I Ran Digital For A 2016 Presidential Campaign. Here's What Russia Might Have Got For $100,000."

"Even the pros struggle to know how far messages travel when Facebook is paid to promote them — but Russia's $100,000 could have reached millions."

That's by Kevin Bingle at Buzzfeed. He's "an Ohio-based, Republican political digital consultant who managed digital operations for Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign."

1. Kasich lost, and a Kasich supporter might be quite hostile to Trump.

2. The idea is that $100,000 spent on Facebook can be effective, but it depends on whether the dynamics of virality kick in.

3. How worried should we be about the power of ideas to take on life and command attention? Why not feel great about the way all ideas can now compete in the marketplace of ideas? The main answer seems to be that bad ideas, exaggerations, and outright lies can be viral.
One post I saw on Facebook, months after Gov. Kasich had left the race, declared that “John Kasich Left the GOP!” It had nearly 40,000 shares. Aside from the fact that this is an absurd claim, the reach of that one post sent shivers down my spine. That was the day I realized how widespread this had become.
4. But isn't this the story of humanity: The rise and fall of bad and good ideas, including the idea that the spread of ideas is frightening and destructive and the idea that people can be trusted to sort out good and bad ideas for themselves?

51 comments:

Big Mike said...

He managed digital operations for Kasich but wants to censor the Internet? Not very knowledgeable about 21st century computers by, is he? No wonder Kasich stayed in the race well past the point where he was mathematically eliminated.

tola'at sfarim said...

There are billions spent on elections. Im doubtful you could trace the impact of 100k spent on Facebook. Unless it was of the dead girl/live boy variety

Birkel said...

A lack of trust in people, which might also be a disguise for a lust for power, is at the heart of most of these complaints. It is insulting to average people. It is another expression of flyover country and the rust belt. People who are serially insulted, we deplorables, turn away and are not guided by the right-think propaganda of the Leftist Collectivist MSM.

Ray said...

Using the term Virality is a cop out. You can reach a million people at zero cost if your post goes viral.

Facebook on reach is basically pay to play. It's easy to lose a lot of money with no impact. What sets Facebook apart is its ability to target specific demographic. So if I wanted to target in SA zip codes females making x dollars, x education, age, and who like Taylor Swift I could. You can boost posts or do the straight advertising. Mobile is much cheaper than desktop traffic, but less effective. You can target likes or clicks. Video is more effective usually.

MayBee said...

I have friends on the left and right who share the stupidest political crap on Facebook. Not one of my friends who posted stupid political crap on Facebook managed to post something that didn't turn out to be untrue. The thing where Trump was being sued by someone represented by Gloria Allred's daughter for raping a 13 year old was one of the common ones.

And I didn't see any of these supposedly Russia paid-for ads. It's so easy to be wrong on Facebook. The idea that Russia is somehow especially dangerous in this arena is manufactured fear. This is a new moral panic.

Ray said...

Meant aa, not sa.

MayBee said...

Currently my friends who think Russia helped elect Trump ALSO think Betsy DeVos is pro-college rape.

Ray said...

Did the ads even run in the US?

May be the we're promoting RT? Russia Today news site?

Mike said...

Bingle is clearly afraid of unauthorized voices having any say and fears the traction such wrongthoughts can get. But his client relied on rumor and innuendo to get traction and clearly delighted in the talk he might go rogue and team up with Democrats for 2020.

David Begley said...

Hillary spent one billion and still lost. She was a terrible and corrupt candidate with zero message. That's what happened.

If Hamilton, Jefferson and Washington all rose from the dead and endorsed her on national tv, she still would have lost.

Move on.

Michael K said...

I thought the Russian thing was over. The fact that a Kasich staffer is still pushing it is no surprise.

The GOPe is dancing on a knife edge.

They think Trump hate is a winner.

That train left the station months ago.

MayBee said...

4. But isn't this the story of humanity: The rise and fall of bad and good ideas, including the idea that the spread of ideas is frightening and destructive and the idea that people can be trusted to sort out good and bad ideas for themselves?

Absolutely.
Paired with the perennial "This time it's different. This time it really is bad" and "*We* have a really good reason for wanting to control speech".

Ray said...

People judge credibility on FB by likes and that they saw it. Click farms is another way to cheat the system.

rehajm said...

The fact that a Kasich staffer is still pushing it is no surprise

Who needs data when we have models!

Fernandinande said...

“John Kasich Left the GOP!” It had nearly 40,000 shares.

That phrase was so popular, er, viral, that it now appears in TWO places other than his mention of it.

"John Kasich Left the GOP" -"nearly 40,000"

Bay Area Guy said...

The "Get Trump" squad with no arrests, nor indictments nearly 1 year after the election is pathetic. Comey "leaked" his silly CYA memo to the NYT to get a special prosecutor appointed - an epic waste of time and misdirected resources.

Lem said...

Kasich leaving the GOP is not a bad idea.

Narayanan Subramanian said...

Q . How much Kasich spent?
What did Kasich get for his $100,000 ?
How good is this guy at his job?

Bob Boyd said...

"months after Gov. Kasich had left the race"

Wait. John Kasich went Dolezal? I better get on Facebook!

Night Owl said...

The power to control the narrative has been decentralized. This is disturbing to the erstwhile narrative shapers-- it can lead to more Trumps! There will be more calls to control what people see on social media; more models and algorithms to determine whose "truth" is the truthiest; more attempts to shut down "hate speech"-- which, of course, will be defined as any speech that goes against the ethos of the SJWs.

We need to continue mocking the hysterics who tremble at the idea of people drawing their own conclusions.

MayBee said...

Fernandinande

Hahahahaha!

Night Owl said...

Reality as poker: I see your narrative and raise you my own.

chuck said...

“John Kasich Left the GOP!”

I didn't need facebook to tell me that ;)

Phil 3:14 said...

And this is why a kitten will ultimately win the Presidency.

rehajm said...

And this is why a kitten will ultimately win the Presidency.

After Rick Astley's failed run I'm not as certain.

Bob Boyd said...

And if the kitten is a Republican it will still be Hitler.

Unknown said...

"I thought the Russian thing was over."

That's because you're not paying attention.

sunsong said...

Sure, to what you are saying here. But not absolutely :-)

Night Owl said...

"And if the kitten is a Republican it will still be Hitler."

LOL

Heil Kitler!

Michael K said...

Blogger Unknown said...
"I thought the Russian thing was over."

That's because you're not paying attention.


Inga ! I thought the hurricane had gotten you.

Birkel said...

UnknownInga64: Where hope and stupid meet, and spring eternal.
While Robert Mueller leaks like a sieve, working with AG Schneiderman in hopes of the press convicting a president, President Literally Hitler Trump makes a deal with Democrats.

Scott Adams may be a moron, but his theory that Trump would be legitimized by the end of summer and move from Literally Hitler, to incompetent, to competent but working for things the Left does not like sure does seem to hold.

Speaking of hold, how goes your breath? Has anybody noticed you turning blue? Has your 25th Amendment daydream been working?

Sam L. said...

Life and virality cannot be predicted.

Yancey Ward said...

Bob Boyd wrote:

"And if the kitten is a Republican it will still be Hitler."

We have a thread winner!

Sebastian said...

"“John Kasich Left the GOP!” It had nearly 40,000 shares. Aside from the fact that this is an absurd claim" True, that is absurd. The GOP left him.

Jonathan Graehl said...

if 100k can reach millions via virality
so can 0k

Hari said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hari said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hari said...

$1,000,000,000 was spent during the campaign
$100,000 was spent by the Russians
125 million people voted.
$8.00 was spent per vote in total
8/100 of one cent was spent per vote by the Russians

Gospace said...

"One post I saw on Facebook, months after Gov. Kasich had left the race, declared that “John Kasich Left the GOP!” It had nearly 40,000 shares. Aside from the fact that this is an absurd claim, the reach of that one post sent shivers down my spine."

The reason Kasich was last on my list of desirable Republican candidates- right after Trump- was because there is no point in giving a Democrat the Republican nomination.
Since I live in NY, my vote for Trump in the general was an exercise in futility. But if Kasich had been on the ballot I would have voted in the down ballot races and left the top as a no vote. Well, maybe not- I think there was a Constitution Party candidate I could have wasted my vote on...

tim in vermont said...

That's because you're not paying attention.

That's because your not obsessed.

tim in vermont said...

I would probably care a lot more about this, but my caring about foreign contributions nerve got worn out when I was jumping up and down about Obama disabling the address verification on there contribution web set, but liberals didn't seem concerned, and since they are so much smarter than me, I figured from then on that it was no big deal.

Oh, and here is the Hillary campaign. It's an email, so you have to read it backwards:
Take the money!!

Sent from my iPhone On Apr 16, 2015, at 9:44 PM,

Robby Mook wrote: Marc made a convincing case to me this am that these sorts of restrictions don't really get you anything...that Obama actually got judged MORE harshly as a result. He convinced me. So...in a complete U-turn, I'm ok just taking the money and dealing with any attacks. Are you guys ok with that?


https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/11915

See? No problem with foreign contributions!!!!

And please, if you are going to accuse me of "whataboutism" Please explain how whatever principle you apply to get incensed about this doesn't apply to either Hillary or Obama. Show your work.

BTW, "Whataboutism" is a made up rule, it carries no logical weight whatsoever.

EDH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EDH said...

Based on the memo from Facebook's Chief Security Officer [excerpted below], doesn't Kevin Bingle's article itself use Buzzfeed as, in his words, "a 'news' site loaded with more hyper-clicky headlines, each designed to cause emotional reactions and in some instances, outright mislead voters (remember when #FakeNews was really about fake news?)"?

September 6, 2017
An Update On Information Operations On Facebook
By Alex Stamos, Chief Security Officer

...In reviewing the ads buys, we have found approximately $100,000 in ad spending from June of 2015 to May of 2017 — associated with roughly 3,000 ads — that was connected to about 470 inauthentic accounts and Pages in violation of our policies. Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia.

We don’t allow inauthentic accounts on Facebook, and as a result, we have since shut down the accounts and Pages we identified that were still active.

The vast majority of ads run by these accounts didn’t specifically reference the US presidential election, voting or a particular candidate.

Rather, the ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.

About one-quarter of these ads were geographically targeted, and of those, more ran in 2015 than 2016.

The behavior displayed by these accounts to amplify divisive messages was consistent with the techniques mentioned in the white paper we released in April about information operations.

In this latest review, we also looked for ads that might have originated in Russia — even those with very weak signals of a connection and not associated with any known organized effort. This was a broad search, including, for instance, ads bought from accounts with US IP addresses but with the language set to Russian — even though they didn’t necessarily violate any policy or law. In this part of our review, we found approximately $50,000 in potentially politically related ad spending on roughly 2,200 ads.

We have shared our findings with US authorities investigating these issues, and we will continue to work with them as necessary.

grackle said...

Reading the article I find it long on anecdote and very short on fact. The author saw an ad, allegedly purchased by Russians, but apparently was not intrigued enough to click on it to see where it led. He also cites a “study” which is behind a paywall.

Another bothersome thing: We all keep reading about Russian ads but I have never seen one offered up so we can view it and judge for ourselves. I wonder why …

A similar phenomenon occurred earlier in the MSM and the Deep State with the “RT” claim, which stands for “Russian television,” and as with this latest narration we were never afforded an opportunity to actually view the RT which supposedly gave Trump the Oval Office.

From the comments:

… appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages …

This part could as easily apply to the MSM.

tim in vermont said...

That's all they need EDH, to "keep hope alive!" There's a pony there somewheres, they just know it! But that's some thin gruel.

Big Mike said...

Point of information. "RT" is "Russia Today."

stlcdr said...

Waiting to find out what Russia actually did, is like waiting to hear from a kid the reason why he didn't do his homework.

Todd Galle said...

This is nothing new, really. When I was in High School in the early 80s, we had access to 'Soviet Life' I think it was, a pro-Russkie magazine in one of my classes, can't remember which at this point. Kind of like an 'In Flight' airline magazine but pushing all the commie wonderfulness. I often wondered why they always had blond Ukrainian peasant girls on the cover, rather than the usual dumpy, turnip fed frumpkins from Collective Farm #3122. We had a class trip down to DC to chat with the DDR Ambassador as well. I remember being miffed that the staff served tea, rather than beer. Looking back, I wonder how a high school teacher had the pull to get a bunch of 17 year olds from the Philly area a full hour with the actual Ambassador from East Germany.

OGWiseman said...

This is a bridge too far on cruel neutrality, which I imagine will cause you to say that this is where cruel neutrality is most needed. But come on. The "marketplace of ideas" on facebook is nothing more than "which idea do most people feel like believing". It's not about left or right, it's just corrosive to the national polity to have that sort of marketplace at all. People taking as literally true whichever ideas are most emotionally engaging to them is already a terrible human habit. It's acceleration on facebook is nothing to celebrate.

Tom said...

It's not the ad that's of value. It's the ad that triggers a response. The AI bots are designed to interact with the commentors to mine out choice factors. This was used well by the trump campaign in NE Ohio. Then, the campaign adjusts to peel off former Obama voters based on the data. I have to image the Russians had similar technology. I don't think the Russians were trying to get Trumo elected. I think they were trying to weaken Clintonin her presidency. But Trump won and defied both the odds and his betters.

Stephen said...

Professor, you are always alert to the provenance of an idea. You routinely, and often plausibly, evaluate ideas based on their source and the apparent interests of that source. That makes sense because your instincts are skeptical. The less certain the truth, the more important that we know the identity and interests of the speaker. Isn't a critical point about the Russian fake accounts--and indeed about much of the apparent Russian effort to influence the election, and for that matter much of campaign finance--that we don't know, or are deceived, about who is speaking to us? And if so, doesn't that failure to disclose and/or deception bother you?