We’ve all encountered them on social media: pro-Trump posts so poorly written that it is difficult if not impossible to understand them. They seem to be written by people with very limited English skills. As someone who believes that Trump is nuts, I at first thought those posts were written by people with so little education that they could not even express themselves at an elementary school level. Of course, we anti-Trump people love to stereotype Trump supporters as people of little education, but what if these posters are not Trump supporters at all but rather paid Russian trolls?
As has been widely documented, Russia employs hoards of online trolls to influence public opinion in the USA. Apparently, not all of them are fluent in English. One former Russian troll interviewed on TV claimed to have had more than 20 social media accounts
Russian trolls are not solely targeting the USA. They also attempted, apparently unsuccessfully, to sway the French presidential and legislative elections, and they are now working to influence the upcoming German national elections.
Conventional wisdom is that the Russians were unable to change the outcome of the USA presidential election. I am not so sure that that is true. Perhaps the Russians were not able to hack into the election system to alter votes, but they were certainly able to plant false ideas about Hillary Clinton in gullible voters’ minds, and Donald Trump helped them do it. One of the most successful Russian troll jobs was the claim that Hillary Clinton is a drug addict. Donald Trump quickly picked up on that and demanded that Hillary Clinton take a drug test before the final presidential debate. (I wonder what we would find if Donald Trump were required to pee into a bottle.)
A person close to me decided to vote against Hillary Clinton, and therefore for Donald Trump, based on this false claim. “I can tell that Hillary Clinton is a drug addict,” she told me. “I can see it by looking into her eyes.” She had no idea that she had fallen victim to an idea that had been planted in her mind by Russian trolls with the help of Donald Trump.
As you surf the Web, you might want to keep your eyes open for pro-Trump posts whose English is so badly mangled that they could not possibly have been written by a native English speaker. Were they written in Moscow by paid Russian trolls?