The Russians interfered in the 2016 elections. They are also interfering in the 2020 elections. Their preferred platforms are Facebook and Twitter. For their part, Facebook and Twitter are addressing foreign interference in the political process through ever more complex and evolving schemes that have not stopped the political interference via their platforms.
What Facebook and Twitter have effectively done is shutdown the small business operators trying to tweak out a living during the global pandemic by shutting down advertising for them. The social media platforms are also shutting down open dialog and free speech about politics.
The solution is simple but neither platform wants to implement it because it means less money for them.
The Russian Internet Research Agency that supported Donald Trump in 2016 had a monthly budget of up to $1.25 million. The IRA reached about 126 million Facebook users. It also reached about 1.4 million Twitter users. This according to a U.S. government investigation.
CLS Strategies, a Washington based public relations firm spent $3.6 million on Facebook advertising targeting political campaigns in Bolivia, México and Venezuela. Facebook shutdown 55 accounts, 42 pages and 36 Instagram accounts belonging to CLS this week.
Facebook also announced this week that it has shutdown 13 fake accounts and two pages belonging to Peace Data, another Russian foreign disinformation political campaign targeting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Creating fake Facebook and Twitter accounts is the first step in generating online traction towards fake information designed to influence the outcome of an election. But the fake accounts have no influence until advertising dollars are spent to generate viewership that leads to traction which then leads to influence peddling.
Without the advertising money the fake accounts languish in obscurity.
Facebook and Twitter have spent considerable time distracting with their schemes of controlling the use of their platforms for foreign political influence peddling by shutting accounts and making the shutdown news items all while continuing to accept the millions of dollars that make the disinformation campaigns effective.
The simple solution to ending foreign political interference via social media platforms is to simply not sell political advertising.
Not only would ending political advertising kill foreign political influence peddling but it would also give equal voices to all political spectrum as their reach would be dependent on the voices instead of on the dollars spent to magnify political agendas.
Unfortunately, the Almighty Dollar is too much of a draw to simply solve the problem.