Is That A Russian Troll, Or An American Super PAC?

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What’s the difference between a political operative and an internet troll? The answer isn’t as clear as you might think.

Last month the New York Times reported that “a group of Democratic tech experts” created digital campaigns in Alabama’s special Senate election that were inspired by the Russian influence operations targeting American voters in 2016. We’ve since learned from additional reports that multiple groups were running similar campaigns targeting Alabama voters in that 2017 race.

Some of these ads, such as those falsely suggesting the staff of Republican candidate Roy Moore were working with a Russian botnet, clearly crossed an ethical red line. Others, like the creation of anonymous Facebook pages to persuade Republican voters not to vote for Moore, were sketchy, but not against Facebook’s rules for political ads at the time. It’s also worth noting that other independent expenditure groups, including Super PACs, were probably


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