According to a Wall Street Journal report, Russia’s meddling wasn’t just limited to propaganda and bots. They also set their sights on the personal data of Americans more specifically black business owners as well before and after the 2016 Presidential Election.
The Internet Research Agency which is the Russian backed troll farm used fake social media accounts to help gather names, emails and other information from unsuspecting Americans. Accounts with the handles @Black4Black and @BlackMattersUS reached out to black small business owners requesting their personal information and to write profiles and promotional content with the promise of adding them to “business directory”. That of course never happened.
Here is one example as reported by the WSJ:
“All the Facebook account Black4Black asked for was some personal information about Ajah Hales and other Cleveland-area small-business owners. In exchange, she was told her cosmetics company, and her fellow African-American entrepreneurs would receive free promotion on social media and in a new and influential directory of black-owned businesses.”
Another case involved a fake activist organization called BlackFist who actually paid a man by the name of Maurice Bright via PayPal to teach self-defense classes in his local community. Bright tells the Wall Street Journal “they were really adamant about getting names,” in exchange for their payment after he refused to share any contact information. He ended the partnership when the suspect organization asked him to teach offensive tactics instead of defensive.
No clear reason has been revealed as to why Russia’s meddling went this route but it’s very worrying to see how far they went to influence our political climate. Stay woke on these internet streets you never know who you are talking to now.
Photo: Bill Hinton / Getty