Okay, first off, no. Your brother-in-law, your Facebook friend, your co-worker, is not a cultivated, groomed, indoctrinated intel asset of the Kremlin.
But, if you have people in your life who seem to spout the Hannity/Trump/Breitbart Memes of the Moment the instant they appear, you might want to pass along this op-ed entitled, Russia Never Stopped Its Cyberattacks on the United States.
Yes, it’s from the “liberal” Washington Post, but it doesn’t belittle their Greatest-President-Ever-MAGA-MAGA, nor is it by that black guy who won’t even machoize his name to a respectable “Gene.”
It’s by a former deputy director and acting director of the CIA. Oh, and a former Republican congressman who was chairman of the Intelligence Committee. That might get bro-in-law to scroll down a few grafs, where he’ll read some familiar stories.
In a single week this month, Moscow used these accounts to discredit the FBI after it was revealed that an agent had been demoted for sending anti-Donald Trump texts; to attack ABC News for an erroneous report involving President Trump and Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser; to critique the Obama administration for allegedly “green lighting” the communication between Flynn and then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak; and to warn about violence by immigrants after a jury acquitted an undocumented Mexican accused of murdering a San Francisco woman.
In other words, every annoying re-tweet and in-box bolus that he foisted on you that week. Every. Single. One.
Not that all of these stories all originated with the FSB or the GRU or the Troll Factory officially named the Internet Research Agency. But all of them deemed sufficiently useful to amplify and spread widely.
Kremlin-backed account holders will re-shout anything they think will further Mr. Putin’s goal of stirring the poop, even something as patently stupid as taking a hammer to an innocent coffee maker.
And in mid-November, after Keurig pulled its advertising from Sean Hannity’s Fox News show for comments the host made defending Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, the Russians used their social media accounts to urge a boycott of the company. For two days, #boycottkeurig was the most used hashtag among Kremlin-influenced Twitter accounts.
When BIL rails at “Traitor McCain” and “Loser Flake,” guess who’s yelling right along with him? All his newfound social media comrades.
Now, I understand BIL probably won’t believe this. No one wants to think they’re a dupe. But maybe, just maybe, one brother-in-law, one Facebook friend of a friend, will pause and consider that it just might be worth looking beyond their echoing feed and checking to see if their ideas are really their own. Or if they’re being played.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.