No, it wasn't Facebook's lack of diversity that allowed Russia's troll farm to exploit racial grievances

Russia's troll farm has had a field day exploiting black grievances in ads on Facebook.  Now a Democratic congressman has blamed it on a lack of diversity from the Facebook employees who should have been stopping it.  Fighting racial grievance-mongering with new racial grievances?  You can bet that the Russian troll farm is getting busy on that one.

According to WBIR-TV:

SAN FRANCISCO – In a heated moment during this week's hearings on Russian social media ads, Rep. Terri Sewell questioned whether the dearth of African Americans in Facebook's workforce contributed to the company's failure to catch Russian operatives using fake accounts to stoke racial tensions ahead of last year's presidential election.

Displayed behind Sewell, a Democrat from Alabama, was one of the Russian-backed ads sharing a famous black-and-white photograph of the Black Panthers from 1968. The message: "Black Panthers were dismantled by U.S. government because they were black men and women standing up for justice and equality."

In reality, the problem is that Facebook lacks diversity of ideas.  When everyone shares the same outlook, the tendency from there is to move to the extremes.  Facebook is composed exclusively of leftists.  Those aren't the people who are going to stop a demagogic ad from Russia's Internet Research Agency such as the one described in the WBIR piece.

Let's scroll back to what this is really about to see how it works.

According to the CIA, the Russian agenda is to create chaos and uncertainty.  What better way to do it than to rouse up racial grievances that have such a ready audience, something even President Obama knew as he whipped up racial grievances in places like Ferguson?  With false descriptions of what went down as rallying cries, such as "Hands up, don't shoot," Obama didn't bother to correct the false facts that were so inflammatory.  He amplified the "narrative" instead because he knew there was political hay to be made.

Is a left-wing Facebook employee, whether black or white, going to act at all differently?  If there is leftist political hay to be made with whatever ad comes in front of him, you can bet he is going to make it in the name of reinforcing the cause.  Score another win for the Russian troll farm, then.

WBIR does try to make the point that a Baltimore black leader engaged in the protests on the grounds of being able to spot the inauthenticity of the Russian "Blacktivist" ad, encouraging the trolls to come to Baltimore:

Well before those disclosures, the black community had raised suspicions about those posing as activists on Facebook and Twitter, though plenty were duped by the ads.

When the Russian-backed "Blacktivist" Facebook page and Twitter account called for a march in Baltimore in April 2016 after the police custody death of Freddie Gray, Rev. Heber Brown III, pastor of a Baltimore church, confronted Blacktivist, asking if those behind the account organizing the police brutality march were local. The account responded that it was not based in Baltimore, but was "looking for friendship, because we are fighting for the same reasons."

Brown retorted that Blacktivist should "come learn and listen before you lead." When he later learned that the account was fake and based in Russia,  Brown said he was stunned that he had disrupted a "Russian op."

But that is an issue of localism, the fact that no one at Facebook is really from Baltimore's poor neighborhoods.  A black person from a cosseted Marin County upbringing employed at Facebook isn't going to be any more helpful in spotting a fake Russian ad than a white person would be.  The argument here would be More Localism, not more Facebook employees hired solely because they are black.  The cosseted employee, whether black or white, would be responding to the loudest voices from the national press, not the local pastor calling for peace from the place where the trouble is on the ground.

And that gets back to the problem with the troll farm: it exploits racial grievances from the wildest voices, the ones that have a national or international reach, the arguments that stand out and spread, not the local perspective on the ground.

Exploiting black grievances has been an old Russian game since the founding days of the Soviet Comintern and its vast propaganda operations.  The Soviets exploited Paul Robeson and other prominent blacks of achievement in the pre-civil rights era, and their acolytes were on the ground during the civil rights era itself.  There was a reason Martin Luther King, Jr. was being spied on by the FBI, regardless of how it looks now, given the efforts of communists controlled by the Soviet Union to exploit the civil rights movement at the time.

That the Russian troll farm is still going strong on this shows that it's never gone away.  They've just repackaged the same old agenda for the internet age.  Hiring a few more black employees at Facebook may be a good thing in itself, but it is not the answer to Russia's longtime expertise in exploiting black grievances to drown out reasonable voices and create chaos.  Understanding their agenda and refraining from endorsing demagoguery for political gain is.  Fighting grievance-mongering with more grievances just won't work.

Russia's troll farm has had a field day exploiting black grievances in ads on Facebook.  Now a Democratic congressman has blamed it on a lack of diversity from the Facebook employees who should have been stopping it.  Fighting racial grievance-mongering with new racial grievances?  You can bet that the Russian troll farm is getting busy on that one.

According to WBIR-TV:

SAN FRANCISCO – In a heated moment during this week's hearings on Russian social media ads, Rep. Terri Sewell questioned whether the dearth of African Americans in Facebook's workforce contributed to the company's failure to catch Russian operatives using fake accounts to stoke racial tensions ahead of last year's presidential election.

Displayed behind Sewell, a Democrat from Alabama, was one of the Russian-backed ads sharing a famous black-and-white photograph of the Black Panthers from 1968. The message: "Black Panthers were dismantled by U.S. government because they were black men and women standing up for justice and equality."

In reality, the problem is that Facebook lacks diversity of ideas.  When everyone shares the same outlook, the tendency from there is to move to the extremes.  Facebook is composed exclusively of leftists.  Those aren't the people who are going to stop a demagogic ad from Russia's Internet Research Agency such as the one described in the WBIR piece.

Let's scroll back to what this is really about to see how it works.

According to the CIA, the Russian agenda is to create chaos and uncertainty.  What better way to do it than to rouse up racial grievances that have such a ready audience, something even President Obama knew as he whipped up racial grievances in places like Ferguson?  With false descriptions of what went down as rallying cries, such as "Hands up, don't shoot," Obama didn't bother to correct the false facts that were so inflammatory.  He amplified the "narrative" instead because he knew there was political hay to be made.

Is a left-wing Facebook employee, whether black or white, going to act at all differently?  If there is leftist political hay to be made with whatever ad comes in front of him, you can bet he is going to make it in the name of reinforcing the cause.  Score another win for the Russian troll farm, then.

WBIR does try to make the point that a Baltimore black leader engaged in the protests on the grounds of being able to spot the inauthenticity of the Russian "Blacktivist" ad, encouraging the trolls to come to Baltimore:

Well before those disclosures, the black community had raised suspicions about those posing as activists on Facebook and Twitter, though plenty were duped by the ads.

When the Russian-backed "Blacktivist" Facebook page and Twitter account called for a march in Baltimore in April 2016 after the police custody death of Freddie Gray, Rev. Heber Brown III, pastor of a Baltimore church, confronted Blacktivist, asking if those behind the account organizing the police brutality march were local. The account responded that it was not based in Baltimore, but was "looking for friendship, because we are fighting for the same reasons."

Brown retorted that Blacktivist should "come learn and listen before you lead." When he later learned that the account was fake and based in Russia,  Brown said he was stunned that he had disrupted a "Russian op."

But that is an issue of localism, the fact that no one at Facebook is really from Baltimore's poor neighborhoods.  A black person from a cosseted Marin County upbringing employed at Facebook isn't going to be any more helpful in spotting a fake Russian ad than a white person would be.  The argument here would be More Localism, not more Facebook employees hired solely because they are black.  The cosseted employee, whether black or white, would be responding to the loudest voices from the national press, not the local pastor calling for peace from the place where the trouble is on the ground.

And that gets back to the problem with the troll farm: it exploits racial grievances from the wildest voices, the ones that have a national or international reach, the arguments that stand out and spread, not the local perspective on the ground.

Exploiting black grievances has been an old Russian game since the founding days of the Soviet Comintern and its vast propaganda operations.  The Soviets exploited Paul Robeson and other prominent blacks of achievement in the pre-civil rights era, and their acolytes were on the ground during the civil rights era itself.  There was a reason Martin Luther King, Jr. was being spied on by the FBI, regardless of how it looks now, given the efforts of communists controlled by the Soviet Union to exploit the civil rights movement at the time.

That the Russian troll farm is still going strong on this shows that it's never gone away.  They've just repackaged the same old agenda for the internet age.  Hiring a few more black employees at Facebook may be a good thing in itself, but it is not the answer to Russia's longtime expertise in exploiting black grievances to drown out reasonable voices and create chaos.  Understanding their agenda and refraining from endorsing demagoguery for political gain is.  Fighting grievance-mongering with more grievances just won't work.

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