The investigation looking into Russia tampering with the 2016 presidential election is still ongoing. CNN reports new revelations about the use of social media and influencing American citizens by fake social media accounts.
A social media campaign called “Blacktivist” using both Twitter and Facebook and apparently linked to the Russian government made attempts to amplify racial tensions in the US during the presidential election. According to the news outlet, Twitter account has been already handed over to the Congress and Facebook account is expected to to be facilitated in the next days.
CNN reported Wednesday that at least one of the Facebook ads bought by Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign referenced Black Lives Matter and was specifically targeted to reach audiences in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, two cities that had gained widespread attention for the large and violent protests over police shootings of black men. However, Russia declines having bought any such ads from Facebook.
The Blacktivist Facebook account was among the 470 Russian-linked accounts identified by the social media network and disclosed to Congress earlier this month.
The page often publicized videos of police officers using brutality towards African Americans, as well as at least seven rallies and protestations nationwide. In several cases, it appears that the events were real, and were organized by other groups, but that the Blacktivist account was working to increase turnout.
What’s interesting, Blacktivist account gathered 360,000 likes, more than the verified Black Lives Matter account, which currently has just over 301,000.
All of the ads handed over by Facebook were linked to the Internet Research Agency, a shadowy company that U.S. military intelligence has described as “a state-funded organization that blogs and tweets on behalf of the Kremlin.”
The Twitter account, @Blacktivists, provided several clues that in hindsight indicate it was not what it purported to be. In several tweets, it employed awkward phrasing that a native English speaker would be unlikely to use. It also consistently posted using an apostrophe facing the wrong way, i.e. “it`s” instead of “it’s,” CNN reports.
Both Russian-backed accounts, Twitter and Facebook, sought to amplify political discord by highlighting hot-button political issues like race and immigration.