Russian Bots Are Everywhere!

Chances are, you or someone you know re-posted a meme with a political factoid on it. Memes are a crudely simple way to communicate an idea. All you need is a headline and a picture and you have your Snapple cap of the internet out there for everyone to see.

Since 2012, political memes have sprouted up from everywhere, touching on topics ranging from Obama’s Kenyan birth or Hillary calling the average Democrat voter “stupid”. Yes, most are fake but there are people who believe them without fact-checking them first. Both liberal and conservative voters alike will often skip fact-checking before re-posting if said meme aligns with their political philosophies.

During the 2016 Presidential primary and election seasons, memes were plastering everyone’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. Overwhelmingly these memes were anti-Hillary and they were going viral. Recently Facebook dropped a bombshell that Russia bought over a $150,0000 in pro-Trump anti-Hillary advertising. Thousands of Russian bot created Facebook profiles are still out there, still spreading REAL Fake News.

Recently, I encountered one of these fake accounts and realized the damage it’s still doing to our country. A relative of mine re-posted a meme about the church shooting in Tennessee. The shooter, Emanuel Kidega Samson, who is black, was depicted side by side with the Charleston church shooter Dylann Storm Roof who is white. The meme itself compares the two by saying they both “walked into a church with a gun and shot up several people” and that we haven’t “heard a word from the media”. Not only is the meme deceptive by trying to claim both shooters committed the same exact crime, but they’re insinuating that the media didn’t report the Tennessee shooting because the shooter was black.

To be fair while both are terrible crimes, Emanuel Kidega Samson killed one person and injured seven, Dylann Storm Roof killed nine people and injured one. 

I wanted to see where this misleading meme came from and it came from a bizarre Facebook account.  I noticed first that this account had an unusually high number of followers, (10,993 as of today) and the Facebook limit 5,000 friends. Upon further digging, almost all posts are pro-Trump, anti-liberal in nature. He has had essentially ZERO personal posts or check-ins. Outside of Facebook, this person does not exist at all. I am certain that this account is a Russian bot.

We aren’t the only country dealing with Russia bots feeding the public propaganda by way of social media. Facebook’s removed 30,000 fake accounts ahead of France’s presidential election earlier this year.

 

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