Dailybeast: Did Putin Astroturf the Libertarian Ron Paul Revolution?

Very interesting article by Louis Anslow in Dailybeast suggests the Russian cyberwarfare on the American political system, which I discuss in Digital Downfall, started much earlier than most people suspect – in 2007.

Did Putin Astroturf the Libertarian Ron Paul Revolution?

On March 12, 2007, an obscure congressman from Texas announced his run for the Presidency of the United States. He was a fringe candidate running on the Republican ticket with little hope of winning a primary, let alone the nomination.

Then—suddenly—Ron Paul was everywhere.

Within a few months, Paul landed a spot on Real Time with Bill Maher, thanks to unprecedented online momentum that would capture the attention of the mainstream press.

Wired magazine detailed how Paul was taking over the web. The Washington Post ran the numbers, noting he was more popular on Facebook than his GOP primary rival John McCain, had more friends on MySpace than Mitt Romney, and garnered almost as many views on YouTube as Barack Obama (while also noting Paul’s low polling numbers.) Other outlets also highlighted the mismatch between real world and online popularity—such as the NBC News story, “An also-ran in GOP polls, Paul is huge on Web.”

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