Russian Troll Farms Stoke Both Sides of NFL ‘Take a Knee’ Debate
See this picture? It’s a literal, real life Russian troll farm. They do exist:
“In an interview with ABC News, Lyudmila Savchuk, who worked for the company in 2015 to expose what the factory was doing, described how young Russians posed as Americans, working 12 hour shifts at the company’s headquarters posting comments on American political issues selected by their bosses. Facebook, she said, was one of their primary platforms.”
“Troll factory is a very appropriate name for it because it really is a large-scale production that works around the clock, and they don’t take time off for holidays, lunch nor sleep,” she said. “A huge quantity of content is being produced.”
In the last post we looked at the fact that Russia used Facebook ads in a number of ways to help Trump win including an ad that outright endorsed him.
In 2016 election, Russian Facebook ads called Trump ‘the only viable option’ https://t.co/QOuz1LGjbY
— mike sax (@mikesaxny2) September 28, 2017
As we also noted, a major tactic of Russian active measures is to foment divisive social issues. One issue they foment in country after country is ant immigration hysteria-the better to divide the country.
“Posts that circulated to a targeted, swing-state audience on the social media site railed against illegal immigrants and claimed “the only viable option is to elect Trump.” They were shared by what looked like a grassroots American group called Secured Borders, but Congressional investigators say the group is actually a Russian fabrication designed to influence American voters during and after the presidential election.”
Yesterday evening a story broke that they impersonated a Muslim American organization-the better to foment anti Islamic hysteria.
NEW: Russians impersonated real American Muslims to spread fake news, stir chaos on Facebook & Instagram https://t.co/t13wog0xKi
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) September 27, 2017
“Instead, sources familiar with the group tell The Daily Beast, it was an imposter account on the world’s largest social network that’s been traced back to the Russian government.”
“Using the account as a front to reach American Muslims and their allies, the Russians pushed memes that claimed Hillary Clinton admitted the U.S. “created, funded and armed” al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State; claimed that John McCain was ISIS’ true founder; whitewashed blood-drenched dictator Moammar Gadhafi and praised him for not having a “Rothschild-owned central bank”; and falsely alleged Osama bin Laden was a “CIA agent.”
However, right now the big focus of Russian troll farms is: the NFL debate over players kneeling during the national anthem.
Russian-linked influence networks are very interested in the NFL this Sunday, per @SecureDemocracy‘s Hamilton 68 dashboard.
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) September 24, 2017
They are using this furor to stoke this debate. Interestingly, a Republican Senator, James Lankford of Oklahoma is warning about this Russian active measure:
“Russian Internet trolls are trying to gin up even more controversy over NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem, a senator said Wednesday — warning that the United States should expect such divisive efforts to escalate in the next election.”
“Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) made the assertion in a hearing with the heads of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center.”
“Russian trolls, he said, were cynically pushing both sides of the argument over whether players should take a knee at the playing of the national anthem before NFL games. Players have been doing so as a silent protest against police treatment of minorities, though critics — including President Trump — argue that doing so disrespects the American flag and members of the U.S. military.”
“We watched even this weekend, the Russians and their troll farms, and their Internet folks, start hash-tagging out ‘take a knee’ and also hash-tagging out ‘Boycott NFL,’ ’’ Lankford said.
Notice the tactic they’re employing here: they are promoting hashtags from both sides of the debate. They hope to get both sides as riled up as possible.
To sow and increase American discord.
And of course, Trump is a huge catalyst of discord in his own right. I already argued in a Monday post that Trump was a moron to ever make such a big deal over a few kneeling athletes in the first place.
If you really hate players kneeling then Trump has not helped your cause. After all, before he opened his big mouth six players had kneeled the previous weekend. After he opened his big Nazi mouth, you had over 200 players-white as well as black-kneel the next week with lots of coaches and owners supporting them.
Ironically, Trump actually helped those who WANT athletes to kneel during the anthem. If you really wanted to tamp down on it the smart thing would have been to say nothing at all about it.
What this has done instead is create two big warring camps: TAKE A KNEE vs. BOYCOTT NFL.
So now between Trump and the Russian trolls, we have a new very loud divisive issue to use as a racial wedge between Americans.
P.S. Hello! I’m Mike Sax Democratic candidate for NY2. If you want to ride the Impeachment Train all the way to Washington DC in 2019 then please vote for me, Mike Sax NY2.
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