“But for Russian trolls, the protests were another opportunity to sow discord in America — one of a series of social movements, from Black Lives Matter activism to pro-Trump populism, on which trolls appear to have seized.”
“A social media campaign calling itself “Blacktivist” and linked to the Russian government used both Facebook and Twitter in an apparent attempt to amplify racial tensions during the U.S. presidential election, two sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN.”
“The RBC investigation uncovered that the two sites, BlackMatters US and Black Fist, were linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian state-affiliated troll farm at the center of the disinformation campaign that pushed fake news sites and troll posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and even Google News and Gmail. Both sites are still online, though their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts have been suspended.”
… “At least three activists were paid for activities that ended up on the BlackMatter US and Black Fist sites. Conrad James, a rally organizer, was contacted via a Facebook message from BlackMatters US last September and paid to organize two rallies in North Carolina.”
“In New York and elsewhere, agents paid personal trainers to lead self-defense classes aimed at black activists with the message that they might need to “protect your rights,” as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. In Florida, they used Facebook and fraudulent websites to organize black rights protest rallies.
In Texas, scamsters organized at least one armed, anti-Muslim protest in Houston. And in Idaho, they helped organize anti-immigrant rallies.”
The Twin Falls story aligned perfectly with the ideology that Stephen Bannon, then the head of Breitbart News, had been developing for years, about the havoc brought on by unchecked immigration and Islamism, all of it backed by big-business interests and establishment politicians. Bannon latched onto the Fawnbrook case and used his influence to expand its reach.”
… “For months, the reporters covered protests around town, which were widely hyped on social media but, for the most part, sparsely attended. At least once the Police Department deployed plainclothes officers into the crowds, with instructions to look after the journalists. Later, it turned out that fake Facebook accounts linked to the Russian government helped to spread stories about Twin Falls and even organized one of the rallies there. The event was also poorly attended but is the first known Russian attempt to spark a demonstration on American soil.”
… “Stranahan now works out of a trendy shared workspace in Washington, across the street from the White House. He quit his job at Breitbart, which he said was being mismanaged in Bannon’s absence, to host a drive-time FM radio show with Sputnik, a state-run Russian news outlet. He told me that he jumped at the chance to transition to a Kremlin-funded outfit and, knowing that it would be controversial, spoke to every media outlet that inquired about it, in order to draw even more people to his work.”
“Generating anti-Muslim sentiment in the US was one of the goals of the Russian campaign. CNN reported Tuesday that some ads bought on Facebook were aimed at reaching voters who might be susceptible to anti-Muslim messages, even suggesting that Muslims were a threat to the American way of life.
A source familiar with the matter tells CNN that Heart of Texas was among the 470 accounts and pages that Facebook turned over to Congress, following its investigation into ads generated by the Internet Research Agency.”
See also: micro-targeting.
(Conjecture: Cambridge Analytica? OCEAN model?)
“Providing new evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Facebook disclosed on Wednesday that it had identified more than $100,000 worth of divisive ads on hot-button issues purchased by a shadowy Russian company linked to the Kremlin.
Most of the 3,000 ads did not refer to particular candidates but instead focused on divisive social issues such as race, gay rights, gun control and immigration, according to a post on Facebook by Alex Stamos, the company’s chief security officer. The ads, which ran between June 2015 and May 2017, were linked to some 470 fake accounts and pages the company said it had shut down.
Facebook officials said the fake accounts were created by a Russian company called the Internet Research Agency, which is known for using “troll” accounts to post on social media and comment on news websites.”
“Social media accounts with ties to Russia pushed a huge Twitter trend in favour of an independent California on US election night 2016, BBC Trending has learned. The campaign was one of at least two popular online independence drives with links to the Kremlin.”
This has been mainly a US-based information thread, but here is one out of Spain for good measure, Politico, September 2017. Including to prove a pattern:
“In recent weeks, Russian state-backed news organizations and automated social network accounts, known as bots, have aggressively promoted digital misinformation and outright fake news about the politically charged vote planned for Sunday, according to an analysis of recent online activity.
The efforts — aimed at discrediting Spanish political and legal authorities that are trying to clamp down on the Catalan government’s attempt to hold the outlawed referendum — follows similar digital misinformation campaigns during Europe’s season of elections in 2017.”