Speed Reads

russia is everywhere

Report: Russian operatives used Facebook events to push anti-immigrant rallies in the U.S.

Before the 2016 presidential election, Russians using fake identities organized inflammatory protests in the United States and advertised them on Facebook, including an anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rally in Twin Falls, Idaho, The Daily Beast reports.

Last week, Facebook announced that Russians hiding behind false names had paid to promote about 3,000 divisive political Facebook posts in the U.S., and a spokesperson confirmed to The Daily Beast that they also paid to share events. While most of the events have been deleted, The Daily Beast was able to find in a search engine cache a Facebook event scheduled for August 27, 2016, hosted by a group calling itself SecuredBorders, which earlier this year was revealed to be a Russian front. When SecuredBorders' page was shuttered by Facebook last month, it had 133,000 followers.

Their event was a protest called Citizens Before Refugees, to be held at the Idaho Falls City Council chambers. It said it was time to "stop taking in Muslim refugees! We demand open and thorough investigation of all cases regarding Muslim refugees!" The Daily Beast says 48 people said they were interested in attending, and only four said they showed up. Whether or not an event is ever actually held, people can RSVP to it as long as an event page is set up.

Twin Falls has long welcomed refugees, and a Chobani plant there had said it would employ refugees. Several pro-Trump media outlets, including InfoWars and Breitbart, had started publishing defamatory stories about refugees in Twin Falls earlier in 2016, with InfoWars publishing at one point a video titled "Idaho Yogurt Maker Caught Importing Migrant Rapists." Chobani sued, and InfoWars' Alex Jones settled and issued a retraction of the false story. Read more about the elaborate Facebook scheme and how many people may have been caught up in it at The Daily Beast.