Just how successful were the Russian government’s attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election?
That question is likely impossible to answer, although one cybersecurity expert believes that Russia has deftly exploited divisions within American society to make us less trustful of one another and our system of government.
Business Insider reports that Laura Galante, the director of threat intelligence at FireEye, gave a TED Talk on Tuesday in which she explained how Russia used our free press and open internet to shape public opinions surrounding the 2016 presidential election.
“The Russian government was the first to recognize how evolution had turned your mind into the most exploitable device on the planet,” she said.
In particular, she said that Russia expertly used stolen emails from both the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign at opportune moments in the news cycle to reinforce feelings that Hillary Clinton was hiding something and was not to be trusted.
“It’s what Russia has long called ‘reflexive control,’ or the ability to use information on someone else so they make their own decision that’s favorable to you,” she said.
She also said that too much media coverage about the leaked Clinton campaign emails revolved around the contents of the emails themselves, instead of questions about why those emails were being leaked to the public — especially because no comparable email leaks were being used against the Trump campaign.
“How meaningful is the truth if you don’t know why it’s being revealed to you?” she asked.