Though some have been slow to acknowledge it, Russian operatives hacked voter rolls and political campaign correspondence in addition to using targeted digital propaganda and fake news in an effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election.
Now, Vladislav Surkov—a key advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin—has bragged in an op-ed about the viability of Russia’s Democratic model, while decrying the “illusion of choice” presented by American democracy.
Surkov pointed out the vulnerability of Americans to Russian influence, insisting that it goes deeper than bots and hacks:
“Foreign politicians ascribe to Russian interference in elections and referendums across the globe. In fact, the matter is even more serious – Russia interferes in their brains, and they do not know what to do with their own altered consciousness.”
He also touts Russia’s use of social media and the internet to exploit the vulnerabilities of Western democracy:
“When at every corner, the Internet was praised as an inviolable space of unrestricted freedom where everyone supposedly can do everything and where everyone is supposedly equal, it was from Russia that the sobering question to the fooled humanity sounded: ‘And who are we in the world wide web – spiders or flies?'”
Surkov’s comments struck a chord with Americans.
They are way better at this than we are.
— Monte Wood (@monteleewood) February 11, 2019
It’s true. I’ve witnessed it with my own family members. They are doing it through evangelists.
— ItsMe (@MomBookseller) February 11, 2019
He is right, Donny’s base fell for it, look at the mess it has caused.
— kanapier (@kanapier1) February 11, 2019
I would argue that most people are unaware that it is even happening.
— Jesse Simpson, NBCT (@MrSimpsonNBCT) February 11, 2019
And we allow them to do it by being uninformed consumers of news. No matter how many times you tell them – people still think facebook memes are news. Grrrrr.
— Melissa (@MelissaBallardJ) February 11, 2019
People have no clue how sophisticated psychological warfare is. They are using technology, the internet and our freedom of speech against us.
— Take a stand (@dailypaint) February 11, 2019
Many, however, disagreed with Surkov’s assertion that we “don’t know what to do” about it.