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Daily Beast Reports: Russia Used Facebook Events to Organize Anti-Immigrant Rallies in the US

Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 8:32:36 pm

We learned last week that Russian front groups had purchased at least 3,000 politically divisive advertisements on Facebook during the 2016 election, but tonight the Daily Beast is reporting that the propaganda effort went farther than ads; Russia also used Facebook Events to organize anti-immigrant rallies on US soil.

Russian operatives hiding behind false identities used Facebook’s event management tool to remotely organize and promote political protests in the U.S., including an August 2016 anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rally in Idaho, The Daily Beast has learned.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Beast that the social-media giant “shut down several promoted events as part of the takedown we described last week.” The company declined to elaborate, except to confirm that the events were promoted with paid ads. (This is the first time the social media giant has publicly acknowledged the existence of such events.)

The Facebook events—one of which echoed Islamophobic conspiracy theories pushed by pro-Trump media outlets—are the first indication that the Kremlin’s attempts to shape America’s political discourse moved beyond fake news and led unwitting Americans into specific real-life action.