The Cyberspace War: Propaganda and Trolling Proposal
It is a well-known fact that both Russia and the United States of America have been involved in a number of controversies, as well as instigating various policies, aimed against each other over extended periods. The general research question presented in this proposal is intended to identify how the Eurasian country influenced the American presidential elections in 2016 with the help of its bloggers and other employees who work online. This topic should be studied because it is necessary to understand what methods the Russian government uses against its opponent. The results of the given research will be helpful for people who are not aware of all the propaganda they face online as regular Internet users’ views can be adversely impacted by false opinions. The Kremlin has been financing several Internet Research Agencies recently to promote popular opinions beneficial to the Russian government on various local and American web resources. The research hypothesis of this study is designed to answer the question whether online commentators and bloggers had a significant impact on the outcomes of the 2016 presidential elections in the USA or not.
As mentioned in the Introduction, the Russian government has been hiring employees who now work online and post commentaries on various foreign websites to promote opinions beneficial to the country’s government. According to a person who used to work for such a firm, his former colleagues receive approximately seven hundred dollars per month to create content related to the propaganda of what is called “The Russian World” (Aro 2016, 130). The Kremlin supports these offices financially on a regular basis. The primary goals of this policy included influencing American citizens’ choices and attitudes towards the presidential elections in 2016. Also, the anonymous clerks worked with some local websites to reduce the number of people who stand against contemporary Russian politicians and their corrupt methods (Stukal et al. 2017, 323). Their comments cannot be dismissed easily as people who work for the government are professional copywriters who follow all the news and trends in the country. With this knowledge, they can develop phrases and posts that can target specific groups of readers. In turn, the employees were discussing different hoaxes and facts from Hillary Clinton’s biography that damaged even further her reputation among American societies. Perhaps this factor influenced the victory of Donald Trump, who now wants to establish an active relationship with Russia, which makes all the efforts of his predecessors appear futile (Cull 2016, 244). It is also important to note that similar propaganda schemes are present on popular Ukrainian and Abkhazian (territories occupied by Russia) sites as well.
This section of the proposal is designed to present an introduction to a discussion of particular gaps in the literature, and how the study will fill some of them. The most important factor that has to be considered in this context is that there are no messages from Russian politicians that would confirm any Internet strategies aimed at changing popular opinions (Schnaufer 2017, 29). All the information comes from bloggers or ex-workers of the discussed agencies. Nevertheless, this data cannot be discounted. Also, available literature sources do not show any examples of Russian propaganda online. The given study is intended to find some of these comments to analyze them and make readers aware of the possible hacking that regular readers might be unaware of. To justify the theory that will be used in the study, it is necessary to state that the Russian government has been using the workforce of its employees to change people’s opinions to the ones beneficial to the Kremlin (McCright and Dunlap 2017, 390). It is one of those ‘opinions’ that could have influenced the outcome of the presidential elections in the USA in 2016.
To prove or refute the hypothesis of the given study, it is necessary to analyze the number of commentaries on different online sources and compare it to the election data by regions. The evaluation of this information in every region of the country will give a clear understanding of whether the hypothesis has to be discussed in the future or not. The analytic methods that will be used in the given research include different commentaries and posts online composed by Russian clerks who work for the government. The experiment will use a mixed method of both qualitative and quantitative approaches because it will be necessary to assess the amount of gathered data and the percentage of voters influenced by it (Hopp and Vargo 2017, 373). To collect and operationalize all the data on variables, a number of scholarly articles will be analyzed to obtain credible information. The sample will consist of fifty voters who based their opinions on posts online. Every participant will be interviewed to define how his or her attitude towards the country’s leader was influenced. Also, they will help students to collect the data they used to demonstrate examples of the Russian propaganda. The significance of this research is potentially far-reaching because it can reveal some of the covert tactics used in political maneuverings. Also, the study is not subject to any ethical issues as each sampling member’s participation will be strictly voluntary. As stated previously, the intended outcome is to understand how Kremlin clerks could change the vector of the American people’s mentality regarding the 2016 elections.
There is a theory that the Russian government employs office workers who post commentaries online to promote popular opinions beneficial for the Kremlin. To identify whether the same methodology was used to influence American citizens’ opinions regarding the last presidential elections in the United States, it is necessary to conduct research that involves voters who based their choices on the information they found online. All the examples of propaganda will be analyzed and used to decide whether the study’s hypothesis is true or false. This research question is important and has to be discussed because it can help people avoid fake opinions, and their promotion online, and enable voters to make genuinely informed choices when voting for politicians in the future.
Aro, Jessikka. 2016. “The Cyberspace War: Propaganda and Trolling as Warfare Tools.” European View 15 (1): 121-132.
Cull, Nicholas. 2016. “Engaging Foreign Publics in the Age of Trump and Putin: Three Implications of 2016 for Public Diplomacy.” Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 12 (4): 243-246.
Hopp, Toby, and Chris Vargo. 2017. “Does Negative Campaign Advertising Stimulate Uncivil Communication on Social Media? Measuring Audience Response Using Big Data.” Computers in Human Behavior 68 (1): 368-377.
McCright, Aaron, and Riley Dunlap. 2017. “Combatting Misinformation Requires Recognizing Its Types and the Factors That Facilitate Its Spread and Resonance.” Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition 6 (4): 389-396.
Schnaufer, Tad. 2017. “Redefining Hybrid Warfare: Russia’s Non-Linear War Against the West.” Journal of Strategic Security 10 (1): 17-31.
Stukal, Denis, Sergey Sanovich, Richard Bonneau, and Joshua A. Tucker. 2017. “Detecting Bots on Russian Political Twitter.” Big Data 5 (4): 310-324.
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