Recent news reports have the Russian hacking-election interference investigations moving at a faster pace as spat of subpoenas have been sent out and search warrants executed. Congress has socially invited Facebook and Twitter execs into closed door sessions to explain their unwitting role as social director for Russian election meddling.
The real issue is not if the Russians trolled, hacked or bo(t)ught their way into the 2016 Presidential election through a sea of social media. It was probably more about how easy it was to get so many “likes” while posting ads and fake news.
The open format of social media has made election meddling a lot easier. It always has been the mission of the Communist International to spread their brand of Marxism throughout the world. And let’s face it, there has been a Communist Party in the United States, CPUSA, since the 1920’s. The CPUSA has ran a presidential candidate starting with William Foster in 1924 and ending with Gus Hall in 1984.
Ironically, according to Marxist.org both men received the same vote counts of 36,386 votes. Voter fraud? In 60 years of presidential elections the CPUSA ended up exactly were they started. But those were tough times to get any sort of mainstream media buy.
Communists supported former FDR’s Vice President, Henry Wallace, who ran as the Progressive candidate in the 1948 election. There were two other socialist candidates running in the that election. And although none of them received a single electoral vote, they did pull in 65,000 more votes than Strom Thurmond’s Dixiecrat States-Rights’ Party, which managed 39 electoral votes. It seems ironic that these two political opposites now form the vocal bases of both the Democrat and Republican parties.
For most of its existence, CPUSA received financial support from the Communist International, the Comintern. The Comintern pushed for world communism but suspended its efforts in 1943 in a show of allied support in World War II. It was not until 1989 that the Soviet Union stopped funding the CPUSA. Funding that the FBI knew about and tracked.
Membership in the CPUSA was never more than 100,000 members, most of whom probably went underground when Senator Joseph McCarthy started his “Red” baiting. And no doubt, McCarthy snared a few vocal socialists sympathizers he could paint as being red into his bear traps.
According to a CIA research report, The Soviet Union and Nonruling Communist Party, “Almost all nonruling communist parties received some form of direct or indirect financial support from the Soviet Union.” For instance, in 1978 the Philippine communists received $50,000 from the Soviet Union while in 1981 the Soviets helped the French communists with “400,000 tons of oil at low price for profitable resale.”
Granted, it could be argued that placing ads or fake news on social media sites may not be legally or illegally construed as “direct or indirect support” to a political party. But it is a form of influence. In any case, it would fall somewhere under the First Amendment particularly, after Citizen United, where the Supreme Court ruled money is free speech. Talk about a double speak.
Today, Moscow has no need to get a KGB operative into a CPUSA meeting. What may have been done face-to-face in a semi-covertly fashion between a KGB agent and an American comrade can now reach the masses and be done through social media; all the while under the auspices of protected speech. Trolls and bots have replaced trained spies and handlers from the Motherland.
What were once the scoffed at voices deep in the political backwoods are now roaring crowds on main street thanks to social media. They can now blast their message from a bed in New Jersey or from Red Square in Moscow.
With the advent of social media and other instantaneous posting sites Russia, or anybody else can influence just about any election in any country at anytime. To think otherwise is contrary to history. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “I’m not going to sit here and tell you we’ll catch all bad content in our system. We don’t check what people say before they say it, and frankly I don’t think society should want us to. Freedom means you don’t have to ask for permission first.” Where was this idea during the McCarthy hearings.
Some websites to see: