by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Don’t count National Review‘s Rich Lowry among those who worry that Russian government Facebook ads might have determined the outcome of the 2016 American presidential election.
We are supposed to believe that it bought the American presidential election last year with $100,000 in Facebook ads and some other digital activity. Frankly, if American democracy can be purchased this cheap — a tiny fraction of the $7.2 million William Seward paid to buy Alaska from the Russians back in 1867 — it’s probably not worth having.
The latest obsession in the Russian collusion story, the Kremlin’s digital activity has generated headlines and put Facebook and all of Silicon Valley on the defensive, although this looks to be one of the most overhyped stories of the year. …
… It is outrageous that Russians meddled in our democracy at all, and if there are ways to lock them out of our social media going forward, we should do it. Let’s not pretend, though, that the Russian online activity was the key to the election. This is classic conspiracy thinking — that some small secret cabal is responsible for a world-historical outcome that had much more obvious causes (Hillary Clinton’s poor campaign, for one).