The 2016 election cycle has been marred with the suggestions that Russian officials used so-called Internet “troll farms” to sow dissent amongst American residents ahead of the vote to influence the outcome in Trump‘s favor. In an explosive investigative report, Black activists were essentially fooled by the Russians to help in their divisive election scheme.
CNN exclusively reports:
New descriptions of the Russian-bought ads shared with CNN suggest that the apparent goal of the Russian buyers was to amplify political discord and fuel an atmosphere of incivility and chaos, though not necessarily to promote one candidate or cause over another. Facebook’s review of Russian efforts on its platform focused on a timeframe from June 2015 to May 2017.
These ranged from posts promoting Black Lives Matter to posts promoting gun rights and the Second Amendment to posts warning about what they said was the threat undocumented immigrants posed to American democracy. Beyond the election, Russians have sought to raise questions about western democracies.
“This is consistent with the overall goal of creating discord inside the body politic here in the United States, and really across the West,” Steve Hall, the former CIA officer and CNN National Security Analyst, said. “It shows they the level of sophistication of their targeting. They are able to sow discord in a very granular nature, target certain communities and link them up with certain issues.”
The Internet Research Agency is a shadowy agency that U.S. military intelligence has described as “a state-funded organization that blogs and tweets on behalf of the Kremlin.” A senior Kremlin spokesman said last week that Russia did not buy ads on Facebook to influence the election.
In a related exclusive report from Buzzfeed News, it highlighted the investigative report from Russian outlet RBC which connected Black activists by name to the Internet Research Agency and its disruptive aims. With backing by the group, the activists were tricked into running self-defense classes and Black rights protests while not truly knowing the root of how they were led to do so.
Facebook has since shut down nearly 500 accounts connected to the Internet Research Agency, including the Black Matter US and Black Fist groups the activists were tricked into doing work for.