News Response: Russia and Social Media

Recently a group of thirteen Russian individuals and three Russian companies have been indicted for scheming to interfere in the United States Political System. It has been reported that Russia harassed the United States for decades, but their attempts weren’t very successful until this incident. Thanks to social media, the offenders were able to easily spread misinformation about the U.S. political system and the candidates of the 2016 Presidential election.

This is pretty ironic, since social media is supposed to help people see many topics of discussion from different perspectives. However, social media can be a double-edged sword due to the algorithms it uses. A platform’s algorithms would detect what kinds of topics a person is interested in, and then lead them towards more articles about those topics. While this should help one expand their horizons, it can also lead them to see articles that make them form biased opinions due to misinformation. The Russians took advantage of the latter case to trick U.S. citizens.

Nowadays it’s very easy for people to trick others, since the Internet gives everyone anonymity, making it easy to get away with almost anything. This makes the online environment dangerous for those who don’t know how to properly use the Internet. That’s why it’s our responsibility to teach future generations how to be safe on the Internet so that they can avoid being misinformed, and be able to effectively analyze anything they come across online in order to form their own valid opinions.