Because flags are universal (and “we are the experts”), FlagandBanner.com has a large Facebook following of over 80,000 people. We daily and dutifully post flag etiquette, how-to videos, sales promos, and half-staff announcements on all our social media platforms.
Recently, as I was checking in on our company Facebook page and reading some of the comments made on the half-staff notification for Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, I was taken aback by the lack of civility and misspellings. When I asked my staff about it, they shrugged helplessly and said, “We think it is Russian bots.”
What?! Really? I’ve been learning more and more about Putin’s sophisticated and successful attacks on democratic countries across the globe. But I thought that happened to other people in other places. Then, I remembered; at least once a week on my personal Facebook page, I get a “friend request” from some handsome, fictitious man, standing on a tarmac and wearing an American military uniform (oh how I wish he was real). But I know he is not, so I don’t friend him. It never occurred to me he could be a plant; a robotic spy meant to infiltrate my every day life and sway my thoughts. Why have I been so blind?
To finally hear an explanation for the often too disrespectful remarks is reassuring and makes sense, but there is still not much that can be done to filter them out or stop people from sharing them. Even Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t know what to do – and he’s a freaking genius. So, I guess, when we read outlandish, inflated comments, it is up to us to be discerning, lest we become part of the problem by spreading the work of our enemies. As with all gossip, inflammatory lies spread 6x’s faster than the truth and prey on unhappy people.
Division and Dissention: Tactics as Old as Time
This takeover tactic to divide and conquer citizens by creating division and dissention within a country is as old as time. Though FlagandBanner.com is not a sensationalistic news channel, we do sell an emotionally charged product (flags) to passionate people with worthy causes. But again, it is reassuring to know that true Americans and FlagandBanner.com customers, by and large, are honest patriotic citizens and not the nasty bullies our cyber attacker’s comments would have us believe.
For a brief moment, as I scrolled down the page reading comment after comment, I was almost sucked into our enemies cerebral, cyber espionage of hate and fear mongering. Dang it, not me, too!
I know many of my family members and friends have opted out of Facebook, but I am hanging in there. I love seeing family’s photos, anniversaries, and, yes, even sales promotions in my feed. But now I know that, when it comes to hate speech and hot guys, I must be discerning and not engage. For it is likely not real, just an algorithm from a person without a soul.
“Loving Thy Neighbor” might not only be a commandment, but may also be the most patriotic thing we all can do.