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Russia targeted LGBT Americans with Facebook propaganda during 2016 US election

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The Russian government targeted gay Americans with a propaganda campaign on Facebook, according to reports.

Russia’s involvement in online propaganda aimed at US citizens has developed into a major scandal, as reports exposed paid Facebook promotion for posts targeted at people in the US.

It has emerged this month that the complex Russian subversion operation targeted a multitude of groups in the US, with Facebook confirming it has shuttered hundreds of accounts that were exposed as the products of a Russian government-run content farm.

Among the pages operated by Russian propaganda network is ‘LGBT United’, a Facebook page that claims to speak “for all fellow members of LGBT community across the nation”.

According to the Washington Post, other pages targeted at US citizens run by Russia included ‘Blacktivists’, ‘United Muslims of America’, ‘Being Patriotic’, ‘Heart of Texas’ and ‘Secured Borders’.

Social media analyst Jonathan Albright, research director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, looked at the influence of the pages.

(Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

His analysis found that posts from LGBT United received more than 5 million shares.

The page seldom referenced the election, primarily dedicating itself to building an influence base among LGBT people, as well as potentially ‘drowning out’ election coverage from legitimate LGBT outlets.

It did appear critical of mainstream Republicans, branding a supporter of Ted Cruz a “thunderc*nt”.

Albright said: “The tone of the posts [from the different pages] varies strikingly… the one seemingly managed by a lesbian is intimate, confidential and chatty, with complaints about parents and teachers not understanding the challenges of being young and gay.

“The English is nearly flawless. One popular post said simply, ‘Bi and proud!’ with a thumbs-up emoji attached to the end.”

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