Russian Twitter Campaign Seeks to Divide America
A network of Russia-affiliated Twitter accounts attempted to fan the flames of the ongoing National Football League controversy in the United States, the New York Times reported on September 27. These accounts tried to emphasize the divisive issue of nfl players kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality. Tweets from these accounts took both sides of the argument, promoting conflicting hashtags like #boycottnfl, #standforouranthem and #takeaknee.
This is the latest news story indicating that Russian-sponsored organizations are trying to sow discord in the United States through social media.
Oklahoman Republican Senator James Lankford, a member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, spoke out about the issue. He said, “They were taking both sides of the argument this past weekend, and pushing [tweets] out from their troll farms as much as they could to try to just raise the noise level in America and to make a big issue seem like an even bigger issue.”
Recently, Facebook has been investigating whether Russia used fake pages and ads to influence the U.S. presidential campaign. cnn reported last week that some of these ads were targeted at specific groups of people. One of the ads referenced Black Lives Matter. It was targeted at people in Ferguson and Baltimore, cities which have been torn apart by race riots in the past.
“The decision to target the ad in those two cities offers the first look at how accounts linked to the Russian government-affiliated troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency used geographically targeted advertising to sow political chaos in the United States …,” cnn reported.
U.S. military intelligence calls the Internet Research Agency “a state-funded organization that blogs and tweets on behalf of the Kremlin.” This agency bought about 3,000 ads, spending $100,000. Some ads, like the Black Lives Matter ad, were aimed at specific demographics or interest groups. The goal of these ads was to “amplify political discord and fuel an atmosphere of incivility and chaos” in the United States.
Facebook and its Russia-sponsored ads have filled the news for weeks. But the New York Times suggests that groups like the Internet Research Agency may be using Twitter even more than Facebook.
The nfl story seems to corroborate this. Researchers at the Alliance for Securing Democracy are tracking 600 Twitter accounts that may be part of the Russian influence campaign. During one weeklong period in September, those accounts promoted 80 news stories. More than a quarter of them “had a primary theme of anti-Americanism,” the New York Times said. One tweet from a fake Boston Antifa account (now disabled) was geotagged from Vladivostok, Russia:
A New York Times report from September 7 showed evidence that Russian organizations used many fake Twitter accounts during the U.S. election in an attempt to further divide America. Automated Twitter accounts “fired off identical messages seconds apart—and in the exact alphabetical order of their made-up names …. On Election Day, for instance … one group of Twitter bots sent out the hashtag #WarAgainstDemocrats more than 1,700 times.”
Russian influence campaigns are not a new phenomenon. As Trumpet writer Andrew Miiller wrote in “The REAL Russia Scandal,” Russia has been trying to undermine the U.S. for decades, primarily through “ideological subversion”:
During and after World War ii, the editor in chief of the Trumpet’s predecessor, the Plain Truth, proclaimed the biblical truth that Russia would not attack America militarily before the return of Christ. Instead, Herbert W. Armstrong revealed, Russia would wage a psychological war of propaganda, infiltration, subversion and demoralization against America. Because of America’s rejection of God, this warfare would weaken the nation to a point where it could be invaded by a revived Holy Roman Empire led by Germany. (For a detailed explanation of the prophecies that prove this, request our free booklet He Was Right.)
“What we fail to grasp, in the struggle with Russia, is this: We are not fighting a single nation in a military war, but a gigantic worldwide, plainclothes army, masquerading as a political party, seeking to conquer the world with an entirely new kind of warfare,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in 1956. “It’s a kind of warfare we don’t understand or know how to cope with. It uses every diabolical means to weaken us from within, sapping our strength, perverting our morals, sabotaging our educational system, wrecking our social structure, destroying our spiritual and religious life, weakening our industrial and economic power, demoralizing our armed forces, and finally, after such infiltration, overthrowing our government by force and violence!”
Herbert W. Armstrong was right. Russia is still using the same tactics as it did in its kgb days, just using different means. Clint Watts, a writer at the Foreign Police Research Institute, told cbs News that the goal of these Twitter and Facebook campaigns is to “sow division in America.” He said, “The Russians can just sit back and say: ‘Amplify on both sides. Make people angry.’ And it works, man, … it works.”
The fact that 1 in 3 Clinton supporters view President Trump’s election victory as illegitimate seems to show that Russian disaggregation is having its desired effect. This ideological divide is wider than at any point in U.S. history since the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era ended in 1877. While the primary blame for this tragedy rests with the American people, Russian subversion has certainly exacerbated the crisis. …
Even mainstream political commentators are now talking about the possibility of a second civil war. History shows that when a nation falls into division and infighting, it quickly becomes consumed by internal crises that leave it vulnerable to attack by foreign enemies.
This is exactly what God prophesies will happen to America in the near future. Why? Because Americans have rebelled against His law. In Ezekiel 5, God reveals that there will be a time of violent rioting in the cities of America just before they suffer a foreign invasion. The dangerous level of ideological division in modern-day America is leading to the fulfillment of this prophecy.
To understand more about what this Russian campaign of influence is doing to America, read Andrew Miiller’s article “The REAL Russia Scandal.”