Anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rallies in Idaho have been linked to Russian operatives using fake Facebook accounts. These operatives remotely organized and promoted political protests in the U.S by creating Facebook events.
Facebook confirmed that they shut down several of these promoted “political protests”. However, they did not expand on the issue, except confirming that the events were promoted by paid ads.
This is proof that the Kremlin’s attempts to control America’s political scene moved above and beyond fake news, as one of the promoted events contained Islamophobic conspiracy theories. The said event was published by pro-Trump news sites.
A former FBI agent Clint Watts stated that “This is the next step”, he claimed that “The objective of influence is to create behavior change. The simplest behavior is to have someone disseminate propaganda that Russia created and seeded. The second part of behavior influence is when you can get people to physically do something”.
Facebook confirmed that Russia used false profiles on the site. Using more than 3.000 ads to promote political propaganda before and after the Presidential election. The posts according to experts were seen by around 20 and 70 million people.
Most of the propaganda is deleted. However, it can still be found in search engine caches. One of these protests was called “Citizens before refugees” and was supposed to be held at the City Council Chambers in Twin Falls, Idaho.
“SecuredBorders” an anti-immigration community hosted the event in March before they were revealed as a Russian front. Their Facebook page has been since deleted.
Facebook didn’t reveal if the so called “promoted events” have already happened or they will in the near future.
Various news sites published anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant articles since 2016. One of the article that caught the people’s eyes was about the yoghurt company Chobani. The article said that they were planning to hire immigrants to work at their Twin Falls factory.
Almost all of the articles have since been changed or deleted by the news sites that were sued by Chobani.