Courtesy of The Guardian:
On Tuesday, the newspaper RBC published a major investigation into the work of a so-called Russian “troll factory” since 2015, including during the period of the US election campaign, disclosures that are likely to put further spotlight on alleged Russian meddling in the election.
The existence of the troll factory, which has a history of spamming Russian and English blogs and comment forums, has been reported on by many outlets including the Guardian, but the RBC investigation is the first in-detail look at the organisation’s activity during the election period.
RBC said it had identified 118 accounts or groups in Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that were linked to the troll factory, all of which had been blocked in August and September this year as part of the US investigation into Russian electoral meddling.
Many of the accounts had already been linked to Russian disinformation efforts in western outlets, but RBC said its sources at the troll factory had provided screenshots of the internal group administration pages of some of the groups, as proof they were run from Russia. It also spoke to former and current employees of the troll factory, all of whom spoke anonymously.
Perhaps the most alarming element of the article was the claim that employees of the troll factory had contacted about 100 real US-based activists to help with the organisation of protests and events. RBC claimed the activists were contacted by Facebook group administrators hiding their Russian origin and were offered financial help to pay for transport or printing costs. About $80,000 was spent during a two-year period, according to the report.
So another $80,000?
Oh but that is not all. Not by a long shot.
Courtesy of CNN:
A social media campaign calling itself "Blacktivist" and linked to the Russian government used both Facebook and Twitter in an apparent attempt to amplify racial tensions during the U.S. presidential election, two sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN. The Twitter account has been handed over to Congress; the Facebook account is expected to be handed over in the coming days.
Both Blacktivist accounts, each of which used the handle Blacktivists, regularly shared content intended to stoke outrage. "Black people should wake up as soon as possible," one post on the Twitter account read. "Black families are divided and destroyed by mass incarceration and death of black men," another read. The accounts also posted videos of police violence against African Americans.
And then there is this:
A group linked to the Russian troll farm behind thousands of fake Facebook ads paid personal trainers in New York, Florida, and other parts of the United States to run self-defense classes for African Americans in an apparent attempt to stoke fear and gather contact details of Americans potentially susceptible to their propaganda.
"Be ready to protect your rights... Let them know that black power matters," the group, known as Black Fist, wrote on its website promoting the events.
The group appears to have been set up in January 2017, and it ran events before stopping at some point this year, evidence that Russia's attempts to use social media to meddle in American affairs have extended far beyond the 2016 presidential election.
The events, which appear to have been designed to suggest a connection to the Black Lives Matter movement, were -- unbeknownst to the trainers who led them -- likely conceived by the Russian government-linked Internet Research Agency.
At this point nobody could possibly say that the Russian government was not all in to help Donald Trump get elected.
And you simply do not put this much effort into something unless you are getting a substantial, guaranteed, benefit.