Propaganda Watch: Russian Social Media Ads–2/13/2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin superimposed into a Russian Flag. Image by Lenny Ghoul.

This is part of an ongoing series where I review some of the ads purchased by the Russians. In doing so I hope we can get a better understanding of what they were trying to do, and how to recognize it the next time we’re faced with propaganda.

If you want to follow along, the ads can all be downloaded here. All of today’s ads can be found in the 2017-q1/2017-02 folder.

During February 2017, the Internet Research Agency gave back to the African American community…in their own special way. Under the “Black Fist” name and posted in the Fit Black Facebook community, they organized weekly self-defense classes free of charge. They were held in New York (P(1)0006560):

Florida (p(1)0006578):

And Los Angeles (p(1)0006596):

They hired well known instructors like famed MMA fighter Omowale Adewale. All they asked was that they got footage of the classes (the instructors assumed it was for proof that the classes occurred) and for personal “contact information” about the participants.

As the months went on more sessions were added in more locations. Then the calls and payments just stopped. It wasn’t until months later that the trainers had any clue the Black activism charity they were working with was a Russian troll farm.

What did they do with the information they collected? Some speculation was that they wanted information on people susceptible to their ads. Others speculate the footage was to be used to scare white nationalist groups by saying African Americans were assembling their own battalions.

I don’t know if we’ll ever fully know what they got from these “free” events.

This is an open thread. Take care, and be well.

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