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Archive for December 17th, 2018

Russian Troll Farms Disproportionately Targeted African Americans, Congressional Reports Show

An image posted by a Russian troll farm, Black4Black.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Russia’s campaign to spread misinformation during the 2016 presidential race disproportionately targeted African Americans on numerous social media platforms, more than previously known, according to reports commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Two reports show the extent to which the Russian Internet Research Agency, a troll farm, sought to divide Americans with misinformation and meme content during the election.

One of the primary goals of the campaign, which was launched on every major social media platform, was to support Trump and to stir up racial tensions, according to the reports. 

The social media accounts were designed to look like Africans Americans were running the accounts, when in fact Russians had created and ran them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube and Reddit. The reports emphasized that Russia made an extraordinary effort to target African Americans.

“The most prolific I.R.A. efforts on Facebook and Instagram specifically targeted black American communities and appear to have been focused on developing black audiences and recruiting black Americans as assets,” one of the reports reads.

Black4Black, an account and website created by Russian troll farms.

The report adds that while “other distinct ethnic and religious groups were the focus of one or two Facebook Pages or Instagram accounts, the black community was targeted extensively with dozens.” 

Some of the examples include Facebook ads targeting users interested in black history, Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party. The most popular was an Instagram account called @blackstagram that gained more than 300,000 followers.

In addition, the troll farm created a dozen websites that looked like they were run by African Americans, with names like blackmattersus.com, blacktivist.info, blacktolive.org and blacksoul.us. 

Russian-created YouTube accounts played a big role in covering the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality, creating channels called “Don’t Shoot” and “BlackToLive.”

Simultaneously, the Russians created “Southern pride” accounts with Confederate flags.

The tactic of sowing racial divisions is nothing new with Russians, who decades ago exploited the sensitive topic of race in the U.S. to turn Americans on each other.

Many Trump voters cited anti-brutality protests as a reason they supported the president.

Alarmingly, the reports warned that Russians continue to use the social media platforms and plant to launch similar propaganda during the 2020 elections.

Michael Flynn Associates Charged with Illegal Lobbying for Turkey to Help Dictator

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Two former business associates of President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, have been charged with conspiracy in connection with a secret campaign to extradite an enemy of the Turkish government.

Bijan Kian and Ekim Alptekin were indicted on charges of conspiring to violate federal lobbying rules, according to court documents that were unsealed Monday, The New York Times first reported

The pair are accused of helping Turkey pressure the U.S. to expel Fethullah Gulen, an enemy of Turkish President Recap Tayyip Erdogan, who is widely considered a dictator because of a history of human rights abuses and overseeing the lack of fair and open elections. He also has jailed journalists and opponents. 

Despite the serious and well-documented allegations, Trump has forged a close relationship with Erdogan’s government. Trump also has used similar tactics of calling the American media “fake” and an “enemy of the people.”

The investigation began in 2016 after Flynn, who has since been indicted for lying to the FBI and is awaiting sentencing, wrote an oped for The Hill, criticizing Gulen. 

The conspiracy deepens because sources recent said Trump was considering extraditing Gulen, a cleric living in Pennsylvania who has been accused by Turkey of helping instigate a failed coup of Erdogan’s corrupt government.

Turkish dictator Recap Tayyip Erdogan

The Washington Post reported Monday that Kian, who was a partner of Flynn’s Intel Group, appeared in court, but Alptekin, a Turkish businessman, remains in Turkey. 

Flynn, who has been convicted of lying to the FBI, is expected to be sentenced Dec. 18. He’s asking for no jail time for cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, whose 20-month investigation into Russia and Trump’s campaign aides have led to numerous indictments.

The new developments show that Mueller has broadened the investigation into unregistered foreign lobbyists and aides of Trump who had forged closed relationships with leaders with histories of human rights abuses.