Russian Social Media Site Turns Over U.S. Propaganda Ads to Russian Government


Written by: Lawrence Lee

As they say in Russia, “Zakon surovyy, no eto zakon, i ya takzhe tverd kak kamen.”
Photo by: Jessica Ma

Giving in to pressure from the Kremlin, VKontakte, the most popular Russian social media site, announced that it would allow the
government to access to its data on over 7,000 American-bought propaganda ads.

“We intend to fully cooperate with the Russian government in this serious infringement of Russian democratic integrity,” said VKontakte in a press statement. “We’ve long strived to maintain a neutral political stance – we simply provide an open social platform for our users and advertising partners, but this is a risk we cannot afford. Not that they weren’t paying us good money to show those ads, of course.”

The ads on VK came in a variety of formats, including text, photo, and video, and used a broad spectrum of themes and motifs. Some showed products from critical proponents of critical American infrastructure, such as a Boeing ad that read, “Our new 737. A journey of epic proportions. The pride of our nation.” Others were more direct, such as a video promoting the United States Marine Corps, claiming that “Marines move toward the sounds of tyranny, injustice, and despair.” Some did nothing but advocate strictly American policies, as was the case in a picture ad for the Affordable Care Act that read, “Got insurance?”

While neither Russia nor the United States have confirmed the immediate sources of the advertisements, political experts in both countries have all but accused the latter of, at the very least, some level of indirect involvement.

“We’re in an incredibly dangerous position with this propaganda material,” said Russian president Vladimir Putin. “We can’t have encourage our youth to grow up wanting to build American-subsidized passenger planes, or join the elite military forces of a foreign nation, or buy into the flawed health care policy of an equally flawed leader.”

“I’m not really that offended by this shallow attempt at sort of infiltrating the media content exposed to younger Russians on the internet,” said Anton Shefler, a 20-year-old university student. “In fact, I’m even more offended that VK is so willing to give protected information to the government. I think they’re both just embarrassed and angry that they let this happen in the first place, so they’re taking any chance they get to fix it and just sweep it under the rug. And – shut up about Obamacare, ma! We get free
healthcare already!”

In contrast, many Americans, while impressed and pleased with the
results, expressed disappointment in the methods used to achieve them.

“I’m not a fan of this whole online manipulation business,” said Victor Bilgobler, a veteran Unix sysadmin. “When Americans invented the internet, they intended it to be inherently pure, unsoiled by political agenda or governmental meddling.

“Yes, I believe that we should have a significant, subtle, and subliminal influence on Russian internet users. But couldn’t we have found a way to do it that doesn’t betray the American people?”

MQ Alum, former Web Editor at The MQ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *