What I see is a lot of people exercising their free speech rights and getting punished for it. If we subtract everything posted by anyone connected to IRA, what changes? Does the character and flavor of Internet posting, to Reddit and elsewhere, suddenly change? Count me skeptical on that score. Singling out a grab bag of views, such as “disinformation about Syria”, as a species called “Russian propaganda” seems highly dubious, especially if the terminology precludes “American propaganda” by definition, as if there could never be such a thing. If there is, lets study that too? Might American propaganda have misinformation components?
What this apparently boils down to is Russians in particular have no right to join the fray, what we call Internet culture. If they do, that’s called “weaponizing social media” because, by circular logic, they’re Russians and that’s what Russians do. I see verbal sparing, sharing memes, expressing views, sometimes passing on misinformation (fake news), as just more of the same and do not believe Russians should be disbarred or singled out. Internet platforms are designed for the world, not just as sandboxes for people who share the same mainstream political views.
I see more of a generational gap than anything. News and views that would never make it past the editors of even MAD Magazine (which isn’t about taking unsolicited content in the first place) nowadays floods the Internet and offended oldsters, who can’t remember anything quite like it from their youth, start to look for someone to blame.
I’ll go further and say the outcome of major elections such as the American presidential one (using “America” to mean “USA”, but then other American elections matter too), affect many people and American voters should be listening to those viewpoints, not blocking them out. Non-citizens don’t have the right to vote, but they do have the right to establish social media accounts and express themselves. What was so illegal about what IRA did? Why should Russians, Italians, Brits, Mexicans or anyone else be told to shut up about who they think should be president?
That’s what’s sad here. Few seem to bring up the point that trying to influence world affairs is a basic expression of an individual with a free will trying to make a difference. And yes, depending on where one lives, geographically, e.g. in Gaza, one’s views may be colored accordingly. And we’re supposed to fight that? Is the goal to keep all Russians with strong political views off the Internet? Good luck with that. Rest assured I won’t help you with that nefarious, nay monstrous plan.