Targeting Blacks On Social Media Is Part Of The Russian Indictments

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Written by Ann Brown

Russia was targeting Black voters through social media posts in an effort to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, so say the indictments just handed down by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In fact, months ago Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted to Congress that some 3,000 divisive ads that were placed on the social media site, some of which targeted Black users, were a part of Russia’s $100,000 political ad buy.

So when President Donald Trump met with Vladimir Putin at a summit in Helsinki, Finland, recently, people wanted to see if he would hold Putin’s feet to the fire. Instead, Trump claimed he believed Putin and Russia had nothing to do with trying to disrupt the elections. He said this despite the Department of Justice just indicting 12 Russian intelligence officers. Trump has since walked back his statements of support of Putin.

Targeting Blacks
FILE – In this July 16, 2018, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland. If Donald Trump is serious about his public courtship of Vladimir Putin, he may want to take pointers from one of the Russian leader’s longtime suitors: Chinese President Xi Jinping. In this political love triangle, Putin and Xi are tied by strategic need and a rare dose of personal affection, while Trump’s effusive display in Helsinki showed him as an earnest admirer of the man leading a country long considered America’s adversary. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

The indictments say that Russian officers used not just Facebook but various social media outlets to try to stir up racial tensions and discourage African Americans from voting.

Still, the fact remains that Russia tried to sway Blacks from voting Democratic or even voting at all through several media posts and fake news reports. They even tried to exploit the Black Lives Matter movement in the process.

“The 11-count indictment made a reference to a fake Twitter account, @BaltimoreIsWhr, set up by the Russians to invite people to join a ‘flash mob’ and to post images using the hashtag ‘#BlacksAgainstHillary,’” Diversity Inc. reported. One post said that Black people should “wake up as soon as possible,” CNN found, Another post read: “Black families are divided and destroyed by mass incarceration and death of Black men.”

The 37-page document by special counsel Robert Mueller claims that “Russian operatives working for the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency used several social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — including ones called ‘Woke Blacks’ and ‘Blacktivists’ — to urge Americans to vote for third-party candidates or sit out the election entirely,” Vox reported.

Among the fake posts was a Black Lives Matter Facebook post under a fake “Blacktivist” account that appeared in late 2015 or early 2016. It was geographically targeted through the site’s ad system toward Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo., where Michael Brown was killed by a police officer, Diversity Inc. reported.

It is believed “the ad was meant to appear both as supporting Black Lives Matter but also could be seen as portraying the group as threatening to some residents of Baltimore and Ferguson,” according to the news network.

A lot more information has come to light through the investigation.

“In January, research from the University of Washington found that Russian accounts actively used the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter, and keywords related to police shootings in an effort to appeal to both left-leaning and right-leaning individuals,” Vox reported.

 

Targeting Blacks
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, looks over towards U.S. President Donald Trump, left, as Trump speaks during their joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

 

Ann Brown
Image Attribution: Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, looks over towards U.S. President Donald Trump, left, as Trump speaks during their joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)