Do you agree with Jimmy Carter?
[re: this post]
YES. Jimmy Carter specifically said he doesn’t believe that Russia “stole” the election and Russia isn’t why Hillary lost, but let’s unpack that a little:
First of all, let’s be really clear here: we are talking about targeted posts on social media. Showing anti-Clinton ads on Facebook ≠ “being hacked.” If that were the case, then you’re being “hacked” every single time you read any post that’s critical of Hillary Clinton. So I think that terminology is intentionally hyperbolic, if not intentionally misleading. Did Russia hack into emails and databases? Even though the FBI and CIA still haven’t physically examined the DNC computer systems, the answer is probably YES. Did Russia attempt to influence the outcome of the U.S. elections? Yes. Absolutely. Did they flip votes? No, there is no evidence that happened and until then, all we’re talking about is Facebook and Twitter ads and social media bots saying, “Don’t vote for Hillary,” which (surprise) people can and did ignore. Clinton won the popular vote by what, 3 million votes? We can and should prevent Russia from interfering in our elections—that is hugely important—but for right now, Russia did not “steal” our election, and no, they are not the reason Clinton lost. Sorry. (I don’t want to take up a ton of space, so I’ll come back to Russia’s interference under the “Read More” page break.)
Second, and this is important: there are two different questions people are conflating - Did Russia “steal” the election and cost Hillary the election? NO. Did Donald Trump try to collude with Russia and possibly commit treason? YES. Two completely different things.
Third: Russia spent somewhere between $100,000 - $600,000 on Facebook and Twitter ads, and had hundreds of fake accounts on social media. I dO believe that advertising (propaganda) works - but it does have its limits, and only works to a degree, and only with certain things. For example, I happen to love Pizza Hut pizza (please don’t judge me) and hate Papa Johns. Pizza Hut could stop running ads all together and Pappa Johns could run a million commercials a day for an entire year, but there’s no way in hell I’m ever going to buy a pizza from Papa John’s. It’s just not gonna happen. Same with Pepsi. They run ads literally 24/7/365, and never once have I said to myself, “You know what? I think I want a Pepsi instead of Coke.” Because I’ve tried them both, and I already have a preference.
Beyonce’ or Taylor Swift? Nicki Minaj or Miley Cyrus? Cats or dogs? If you had to vote for one of them, does anyone really believe that FB ads, no matter how well produced, could change your mind on which you like better, or who you vote for? NO. Because most people already have a favorite, and they aren’t going to change their minds just because of social media. Especially not with polar opposites. Confirmation bias will only make people become more entrenched with opinions they already hold, but it’s never going to change someone’s mind—especially not in politics, and not with known quantities that are extreme opposites—if they have even a slight preference. And guess what? Most people already have a favorite, or are leaning in one direction or the other. Think of it like this: those targeted ads can only draw out what’s already there, but they cannot put a competing preference where one already exists. It’s kind of like the trope about hypnosis - ads aren’t going to make you do something that you aren’t already predisposed to do (like vote for Trump).
Look, Hillary used a David Brock SuperPAC and spent $1 million dollars to troll Sanders supporters (money that could have been better spent elsewhere, iMho), and if money spent on ads were the deciding factor, then Clinton would have easily won, because her campaign spent at least ten times more than Russia on ads, so that should have done the trick, right?
When there’s a choice involved, especially between two opposite things we already have even a little knowledge of, or have personal feelings on, then slick advertising isn’t always going to make people change their minds. And both Clinton and Trump were, more or less, known quantities. Both candidates have very long, well known histories, and long before the 2016 election rolled around, people on both sides pretty much already knew who and what they were voting for.
Take me for example. Contrary to what my mom has told me for every day of my life, I suspect that I am not super super special. That is, I am no smarter or dumber than the next guy, okay? I’m a diehard Bernie supporter who has absolutely no love for Hillary or the Clintons. In fact, I had planned on leaving that space blank, and not voting for anyone for president. But I’m registered to vote in a swing state and I was taken aback (are black men allowed to be taken aback?) by the incredible amount of responsibility I suddenly felt when I was actually standing there in the ballot booth. I was literally shook. So guess what? I ended up surprising myself and voted for Hillary Clinton. But….why didn’t all those fancy Facebook ads & bots work on me, or my family & friends, who were also Sanders supporters? BECAUSE WE’RE BLACK, NOT CRAZY. All the slick ads and propaganda on earth were never going to get me to change my mind, or somehow trick me into voting for Trump, no matter how much I dislike the Clintons.
If you love Trump and hate Clinton (or love Clinton, hate Trump), then ads are not going to change your mind. Oh, and those mythical “undecided voters” already have a preference between Democrats vs Republicans.
So that begs the question: When dO ads work? I mean, when do targeted ads change someone’s mind on a choice between two alternatives? When it’s seen as a small inconsequential choice, or when the choices are not very different, or WHEN YOU DO NOT *ALREADY* HAVE A PREFERENCE, ESPECIALLY BETWEEN POLAR OPPOSITES. But once we do form a preference, we are very very slow to change them.