The biggest story of the day is this:
The Russian influence campaign on social media in the 2016 election made an extraordinary effort to target African-Americans ... according to a report produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee....
The report says that 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.”
... Whether such efforts had a significant effect is difficult to judge. Black voter turnout declined in 2016 for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election....
It turns out that African Americans were targeted with more Facebook ads than any other group, including conservatives.
Three of the four most-liked Facebook posts put up by the Russian influence effort came from an account called Blacktivist that urged the community to be more cynical about politics. African Americans were urged to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein throughout the month before the 2016 election. A post on Oct. 29 that year declared: “NO LIVES MATTER TO HILLARY CLINTON. ONLY VOTES MATTER TO HILLARY CLINTON.” A message on Nov. 3 added: “NOT VOTING is a way to exercise our rights.”
On Twitter, four of the Russian agency’s five most‐retweeted accounts catered exclusively to African Americans.
On Instagram, all five of the most-liked posts created by the Russians were aimed at African American women. They included the hashtags #blackpower, #blackpride, #unapologeticallyblack, #blacklivesmatter, #icantbreathe, #riot and #blackgirlskillingit.
Now, perhaps it would be rash to conclude that the Trump campaign colluded in this effort, but as Jennifer Palmieri reminds us, the campaign bragged about extremely similar vote suppression efforts in a Bloomberg story published in October 2016:
Instead of expanding the electorate, [Steve] Bannon and his team are trying to shrink it. “We have three major voter suppression operations under way,” says a senior official. They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans.... [Clinton's] 1996 suggestion that some African American males are “super predators” is the basis of a below-the-radar effort to discourage infrequent black voters from showing up at the polls—particularly in Florida.
On Oct. 24, Trump’s team began placing spots on select African American radio stations. In San Antonio, a young staffer showed off a South Park-style animation he’d created of Clinton delivering the “super predator” line (using audio from her original 1996 sound bite), as cartoon text popped up around her: “Hillary Thinks African Americans are Super Predators.” The animation will be delivered to certain African American voters through Facebook “dark posts”—nonpublic posts whose viewership the campaign controls so that, as [Brad] Parscale puts it, “only the people we want to see it, see it.” The aim is to depress Clinton’s vote total. “We know because we’ve modeled this,” says the official. “It will dramatically affect her ability to turn these people out.”
The Trump team [is making an] effort to ... drive down black turnout in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood with targeted messages about the Clinton Foundation’s controversial operations in Haiti....
Funny how the Russians and the folks in the Trump campaign -- who, I'll remind you again, never colluded -- had precisely the same idea. Great minds think alike!
Republished with permission from No More Mr. Nice Blog