Let’s be honest: hearing a story (or, in this case, daily stories) about how Russia used bots and trolls and other vague, internet tactics in order to influence an American presidential election can be kind of hard to wrap one’s mind around.
I mean, this isn’t Cold War tactics like nuclear weapons that we can hide from under our school desks to (pretend we can) survive. Without a concrete thing to point to, officials have found it difficult to really present how big of a deal – and how much of a threat – these actions have been and continue to be to our democracy.
— Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (@CISAgov) July 25, 2019
Because if Americans live anywhere, it’s in a pizza parlor.
The agency created an infographic that they shared in a July 25 tweet that puts the Russian interference in the 2016 election in terms of an ongoing, widespread, and passionate disagreement about whether or not pineapple belongs on pizza.
In a nutshell, we’re to imagine that, instead of using clever tactics to pit Americans against each other when it comes to issues of race, religion, sexual orientation, etc., a foreign power wants to encourage a battle to the death over pineapple.
“To date, we have no evidence of Russia (or any nation) actively carrying out information operations against pizza toppings. This infographic is an ILLUSTRATION of how information operations have been carried out in the past to exploit divisions in the United States.”
The illustration takes people on a fairly thrilling ride examining how foreign powers like Russia can turn ordinary people against their friends, family, and neighbors.
“Foreign influencers are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to inflame hot button issues in the United States. They don’t do this to win arguments; they want to see us divided.”
Some examples of how they use social media to push further division are given as “Being anti-pineapple is un-American! Millennials are ruining pizza! Keep your pineapple off my pizza! What’s wrong with plain old cheese?”
Basically, the lesson is that you should consume all of your media – especially online media – with a hefty dose of skepticism, and if someone is intent on stirring the pot, make sure to ask yourself what’s in it for them.
Oh, and as for pineapple on pizza? To each her own.