Facebook has become sadly famous for one more trend. There was created a batch of fake accounts, the owners of which were getting in touch with different kind of groups and organizations and worked to organize riots and protests. This was organized to make some influence on the results of the coming elections.
For such purpose, from a fake account there was announced about an event, and the event was advertised to users.
During the last 15 months only, more than 36 events were promoted in such a way. Most of them were protests against the active president, Donald Trump, or in order to promote some issues that are discussed and argued about today.
The scale of the activities was surprising even for the Atlantic Council`s Digital Forensic Research Lab, and these activities definitely go beyond the tactics that are usually used by the Internet Research Agency. For example, only the Kremlin-backed group called IRA created plenty of fake accounts during the elections in 2016, to influence the opinion of the society.
Those fake accounts used to publish posts and were planning events that were all about those hot issues like race discrimination, women rights and immigration policy. And of course, there was demonstrated a wish to move the online activities to the real world. Moreover, those false accounts were getting in touch and infiltrating into the grass-root organizations with the target to undercut the trust in the legitimate activists, among which a lot of politicians were.
Facebook has informed, that it has already removed more than 32 pages created from the false accounts. The deleted pages created more than 30 events starting from May previous year. But this research, as well as this statistic, doesn’t cover the entire activity of the pages, for example, when they were invited to host an existing event or to participate in it.
Among the events created and organized by such false accounts you can find many of rather well-known ones, such as a march against cops, that took place in November 2017, or the Chicano activist celebration, that was organized in June 2017 in New York, or protests at the USA Immigration and Customs Enforcement Headquarters, that took place in June 2018.
For example, one page called “feminist activism against fascism” organized more than 30 events in the USA and one even in Rome. There were many events planned well in advance, including some events in the support of Rod Rosenstein, an attorney overseeing actually the investigation of the Russian interference in the recent elections.
These fake accounts were created with a target to push the extremely polarized opinions and positions into the real world to make such extremes seem and perceived as normal.
One of the distinctive pages was the so-called Aztlan Warriors. The page was using memes that were applied to promote Hispanic and Native American Culture. There were more that 84,000 users following the page. And the page wasn’t only about the culture promotion, by the way, as it should be expected. It was featuring such themes as resistance and anticolonialism.
Some users still believe that the account wasn’t fake, even though numerous evidences were provided.
Many grass-root organizations get in touch with activists and sympathizing public through mass media. And now, it is very complicated to differentiate a legit and a real group from a fake one. For now, it is unknown who was behind all those numerous fake accounts and groups. Some point to Russia, but this is still just a suggestion, not substantiated with facts.
Russia has denied all the suspicions regarding the creation of the false accounts and moreover, regarding the efforts to interfere in the presidential elections in 2016. Russian officials in the USA haven’t commented anything about the accusations and suspicions.
But doesn’t matter who has created these accounts, they took all precautions to make sure it will be difficult to identify them.
Previous summer, some Resisters representatives contacted those activists who were organizing the rally “The People`s Protest. Springfield against Trump”. By the way, Resisters was listed in Facebook as one of eight co-hosts. Surprisingly, but people have never heard of Resisters. However, Erin Kappeler, an English literature professor, tells, there is nothing surprising there. Many groups have met there for the first time, and some organizers were in the role of organizers for the first time. so, not many knew about everybody who was participating and even organizing the event.
As well, the lady told, that they, most likely, added Resisters to the number of co-hosts, because there was nothing bad in adding them. And the event was publicly announced, so, anybody who was willing to help, were welcomed to do so.
One representative of the Resisters sent a mail with a proposal to organize some speeches during the event, but when it come to the phone discussion, this representative ignored all requests and finally, even didn’t come to support the protesters. So, Ms. Kappeler informed, that they concluded, that the group wasn’t serious, and forgot about it. However, nobody has connected it to a broader misinformation campaign.