There’s long been a growing body of evidence to support the claim that Russia used social media to spread fake news in hopes of influencing the 2016 presidential campaign, but now the Daily Beast reports that Russia’s activities went further than that by organizing anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim protests on American soil. The Daily Beast says Russian operatives used Facebook’s Events feature to organize and promote the real-world events.
According to some of the events’ pages, Facebook users did actually show up to a rally against Muslim refugees in Twin Falls, Idaho. If so, this would be the first known example of Russian operatives duping unwitting Americans into specific real-life actions during the 2016 presidential campaign. As Clint Watts, a former FBI agent and expert on Russia’s tactics, told the Daily Beast:
“This is the next step. The objective of influence is to create behavior change. The simplest behavior is to have someone disseminate propaganda that Russia created and seeded. The second part of behavior influence is when you can get people to physically do something.”