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Russia Used Facebook to Promote Anti-refugee Rally in Twin Falls

A partial screen shot of the cancelled Facebook page about an anti-immigrant rally targeting Twin Falls.
A partial screen shot of the cancelled Facebook page about an anti-immigrant rally targeting Twin Falls.

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – Russian operatives used false identities and about 3,000 ads to spread divisive political messages to influence Americans before the 2016 elections, including using fake news to target Twin Falls, according to a report by The Daily Beast.

According to The Daily Beast, Russian agents used Facebook to promote anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rallies in communities across the U.S., including one scheduled Aug. 27, 2016 in Twin Falls.

The Facebook post read that the three-hour rally, titled “Citizens before refugees,” would take place at the Twin Falls City Council Chambers:

Due to the town of Twin Falls, Idaho, becoming a center of refugee resettlement, which led to the huge upsurge of violence towards American citizens, it is crucial to draw society’s attention to this problem. …

“We must stop taking in Muslim refugees! We demand open and thorough investigation of all the cases regarding Muslim refugees! All government officials, who are covering up for these criminals, should be fired!”

Forty-eight Facebook users said they were “interested” in going to the rally, which was labeled as being hosted by a group called “Secured Borders,” but the post showed that only four showed up at the Council Chambers.

In a separate report, The Daily Beast says fake news reports from Russia in 2016, in an effort to sway public opinion during an already heated election year, was likely seen by as many as 70 million people.

On Wednesday, Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, revealed that Russia had “likely” used 470 fake accounts to buy about $100,000 worth of advertising promoting “divisive social and political messages” to Americans.

A Facebook spokesman said it has shut down “several promoted events.”

The report comes as special counsel Robert Mueller continues to probe into Russia’s election meddling during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The Kremlin, however, has denied any knowledge of or involvement in the presidential campaign, according to a report by Newsweek.

“We have never heard of this,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the country’s state news agency. “We do not know anything about this, let alone have anything to do with these affairs.”

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