Black Voters Specifically Targeted By Russia in 2016
Russians targeted the Black community extensively with dozens of Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, and YouTube posts during the 2016 presidential campaign. A new report commissioned for and released by the Senate Intelligence Committee -- which is run by Republicans -- on Monday found that the targeted social media was used to spread doubts about Hillary Clinton and decrease Black voter turnout. 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,” the report says. The Russian troll farm, Internet Research Agency, placed Facebook ads that were targeted at users who had shown interest in Black history, the Black Panther Party, and Malcolm X. They also created websites with names like blackmattersus.com, blacktivist.info, blacktolive.org, and blacksoul.us. On YouTube, the largest share of Russian material covered the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality, with channels called “Don’t Shoot” and “BlackToLive.” The most popular of the Russian Instagram accounts was @blackstagram, with 303,663 followers. While it is impossible to know the full scope of Russia’s impact, it appears that their efforts to suppress the Black vote paid off: the Current Population Survey found that just 59.4% of eligible Black voters cast a ballot in 2016 -- down from 66.2% who reported voting in 2012. And while the decline can be partially attributed to President Barack Obama no longer being a candidate, 2016 was the first time there had been a decline in Black turnout since 1996. In Wisconsin, where Donald Trump won by only 10,704 votes, Black voter turnout was down from 73.7% in 2012 to 45.1% in 2016 -- a 27 point decrease -- the largest drop in turnout among African Americans. More here.