The Justice Department has charged a Russian national with interfering in the upcoming November election. It says a Russian woman from St. Petersburg managed a $35 million budget for online propaganda to "sow division and discord" ahead of the midterms. Topics like immigration, gun control, the Confederate flag, race relations, LGBTQ issues and the Women's March are being use to "inflame passions" among voters, according to last week’s criminal complaint.
Class discussion: Are Russia’s online trolls harming American democracy? Why or why not? Do our own divisions make us especially vulnerable to foreign propaganda? Are we gullible and quick to believe conspiracy theories and ridiculous stories about people “on the other side”? Why are we so divided? Are politicians and special interest groups making the situation worse? Do the computer algorithms of social media and search engines divide us into opposing online groups? What are “echo chambers” and how do they work?