Election: The U.S. intelligence community is certain that Russia interfered with the 2016 election by spreading disinformation online. But that hasn’t stopped the Kremlin from engaging in such tactics again as the 2020 election nears.
Just this week, Facebook announced the removal of a small network of accounts and pages connected to “Internet Research Agency.” The Russian group has used social media to sow discord and spread false information since 2016.
Trolls in Disguise
Facebook, the world’s largest social network, says it removed 13 accounts and two pages, which had a shared 14,000 followers. These faulty accounts encouraged users to visit “Peace Data,” a site that appeared to be a new progressive media source.
Facebook investigators, however, claim that Peace Data was not a legitimate source. Rather, it was “masquerading as an independent news outlet based primarily in Romania.”
“We began this investigation based on information about this network’s off-platform activity from the FBI,” Facebook stated. “Our internal investigation revealed the full scope of this network on Facebook.”
Apparently, the trolls behind the Facebook accounts had recruited “unwitting” freelance journalists to post stories in English and Arabic. These articles mostly pandered to left-leaning audiences.
But The Washington Post reports that the goal of this media was to undermine support for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris among young, liberal voters. Internet Research Agency had tasked their freelancers with writing pieces that criticized the Democratic Party’s nominees for president and vice president. They then posted the stories to liberal-leaning pages across Facebook.
The Russian operation did not just attempt to sow discord in the United States. Facebook said Tuesday that the network’s activity focused on the US, the UK, Algeria, and Egypt, as well as other English-speaking nations, and countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Still, the recent revelation is likely a mere fraction of Russia’s effort to meddle in the American democratic process. After the 2016 election, investigators found that Russian operatives from Internet Research Agency ran broad campaigns on Facebook as well as Twitter and YouTube. The operation is widely considered to have bolstered the Trump campaign by stoking division among voters.MORE Politics…