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US Fake News Sites Transmit Russian Propaganda

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US Fake News Sites Transmit Russian Propaganda


Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.


Fake news websites have cited multiple Twitter accounts likely run by Russian operatives in articles they’ve posted, undoubtedly helping the accounts’ backers sow discord in the United States.

On October 17, the Russian publication RBC published a report on the Internet Research Agency, a Russian firm tied to the Kremlin, and how it impacted the 2016 election via social media platforms. Included in that report were the usernames of multiple Twitter accounts that these operatives used, the most prominent being @TEN_GOP. Other publications have also reported on other Twitter and Facebook accounts that these operatives used. Twitter will reportedly tell Congress that it has since discovered 2,752 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency.

Hyperpartisan websites known to push fake news have repeatedly cited some of these accounts in their articles (specifically @Pamela_Moore13, @USA_Gunslinger, @10_GOP, @Crystal1Johnson, and @Jeblary2016), as the accounts’ tweets can align with these websites’ agendas, and the pieces have then been shared on social media. Last December, multiple fake news websites cited a claim from the account @Pamela_Moore13 that Minnesota Muslims “want Sharia law.” Facebook users then shared the articles, with some commenters demanding that the subjects “be deported” and claiming that they “DO NOT BELONG IN THIS COUNTRY.” Combined, those articles received over 20,000 Facebook engagements, according to social media analytics website BuzzSumo. A fake news website also cited the @Pamela_Moore13 account to attack Starbucks for promising to hire refugees, and the piece was also shared on Facebook and Twitter.

Fake news websites also prominently cited these accounts to praise or defend President Donald Trump, with the pieces shared on social media. A fake news website cited a comment from the alleged Russian account @USA_Gunslinger that “this video of crowds in Poland cheering the arrival of @realDonaldTrump makes me so proud to be American” to claim that Poland was “ecstatic” for Trump to visit the country. Fake news websites also cited @Pamela_Moore13 to defend Trump’s mass firing of U.S. attorneys in articles that were then shared on some Facebook pages. Such sites also cited the account to push Trump’s false claim that Trump had wiretapped Trump Tower.

Most often, these alleged Russian accounts were employed to attack Trump’s perceived enemies, with the results again being shared on social media. Fake news websites and others websites cited one of theaccounts to accuse former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of colluding with Russia and to claim that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) (already a target via @TEN_GOP) wanted Sharia law and had attacked former FBI Director James Comey. They also targeted former President Barack Obama, citing the same Russian accountto claim that Obama tried to sabotage Trump, and used that same account to accuse former national security adviser Susan Rice of “felonies.” YourNewsWire, a fake news website accused of being a Russian proxycited that same account to attack former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Some of these articles received thousands of Facebook engagements.

Additionally, hyperpartisan websites cited the Russian accounts to:

Combined, these fake news websites’ articles citing alleged Russian accounts had at least 140,000 Facebook engagements, according to BuzzSumo.

Non-fake news websites also cited some of these alleged Russian accounts, along with other alleged Russian accounts @tpartynews and @lgbtunitedcom. Far-right blog The Gateway Pundit repeatedly cited @Pamela_Moore13 to hype a Trump rally in North Carolina, defend Trump’s firings of U.S. attorneysidentify a supposed Muslim gunman, and compare Democrats to ISIS. Another outlet, the conspiracy-minded Infowars, cross-posted pieces citing @10_GOP to hype the St. Louis police protest and @Pamela_Moore13 to push a hashtag calling for the firing of Trump aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Other outlets that cited these alleged Russian accounts included BreitbartThe BlazeRedStatethe Washington ExaminerFox News (multiple times, including a Fox News columnist retweeting one of the accounts), The TelegraphThe Washington Post, Vox, HuffPost, and The Associated Press.

It’s obvious that hyperpartisan websites acted as a multiplier for the influence of these alleged Russian accounts, as they did with @TEN_GOP, giving them a reach they may not have had otherwise and thus aiding the Russians’ likely goal of ensuring tumult in the country.


Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters



  1. Dominick Vila November 1, 2017

    Let’s give credit, when credit is due. Trump was right about fake news. Unfortunately, as it happens so often with anything Trump touches, he missed the target, or deliberately diverted attention from those trying to help him win an Electoral College victory. I remember reading some of the bizarre claims in this article on the Internet, especially the one about American Muslims wanting Sharia Law. The goal was to inflame passions and divide our society. Sadly, Trump’s refusal to acknowledge Russian wrongdoing is paving the way for a sequel to what happened in 2016.
    Regarding Trump not enforcing the economic sanctions against Russia passed by Congress, in retaliation for their meddling in our elections, I would say that this may go well beyond obstinacy, or gratitude for Russian help. Take a look at what happened after Exxon Mobil found very large deposits of petroleum and natural gas in the Southern part of the Kara Sea, in the Arctic. Sanctions would have stopped Western participation in exploration and development of those oil fields. By not enforcing the sanctions, foreign Russian partners, such as a Chinese company that dispatched a sophisticated platform to the region to help the Russians determine exact locations for drilling, were able to carry out their tasks successfully. Money talks. I can’t help wondering if some of our elected officials are benefiting from deals like this…

  2. Eleanore Whitaker November 1, 2017

    What was it all for? Money? No. Power? No. Domination? Yes. When the words “fake” drops from Trump’s lips, he uses it in his typical distorted mirror image view.

    To him, everything real is fake and everything fake is real. Why? For what Trump’s entire existence is all about: domination. Every tiny word, act or deed is always predicated first and only upon his enth degree need to dominate everyone and everything. That IS his only happiness.

    When Trump coerces women into marrying him, they think “money.” He is already thinking “domination” over beauty and all womankind.

    To get the truest essence of Trump’s need to dominate, look at who he chooses to surround himself with.

    A dominator lives in FAKE World where lies are a necessity and the more he packs on the lies, the more real his FAKE world is to him.

    But, when he is forced to face reality, out comes his “victim” card. The REAL world he so hates is suddenly all against HIM. All of his past crimes and egregious domination suddenly vanishes in his mind. Just not to the those he has trampled with his dominating boots.

    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth November 2, 2017

      Trump is the modern-day “Dorian Gray”. Instead of his portrait being wildly contorted as in Oscar Wilde’s work, Donald’s mind is twisted. The theme of a licentious and hedonist life-style is reflected in Donald’s life story.

      What you describe is a man so defiled that his mother wouldn’t recognize him. You’re absolutely right about the “Domination” factor. His entire reasoning for why he was created centers around a delusion that he was meant to dominate.

  3. FireBaron November 1, 2017

    What’s even better about these Fake News sites is you can track the story back from one site to the previous one, all the way back, and then it usually loops around to the infamous “Unnamed Source”.

  4. Aaron_of_Portsmouth November 1, 2017

    Russia’s success with flooding the US with deceptive postings on the Internet may be attributed to the following:

    1) An amoral and immature society in much of Russia and its former Soviet republics. A society not based on a firm moral foundation.

    2) Social media technology based on a faulty business model and software engineering methodology which invites hacking by appealing to human greed, and rewarding recipients who perpetuate the deception—unwittingly.

    3) A partisan political system that further aggravates an already-weakened sense of moral restraint, and making it easy to play one side against another by each side reverting to an animal instinct of “Survival of the Fittest” in human terms.

    4) Related to item “1”, a breakdown of the status quo Religious Institutions, many of which applaud immoral behavior.

    5) A general mental lethargy on the part of so many Americans too lazy and mentally inert to search out the truth if it requires independent investigation, which would help the individual to come to one’s own conclusion w/o outside influence.

    Russia’s Communist elites and their sycophants lack any long-term exposure to a culture based on moral principles, and they too will suffer in the long run as a consequence of these prevalent depraved activities of theirs.

    Russia’s childish behavior is a direct result of a particularly long recent history of materialism as of 1917, overly zealous anti-czarist reactionary impulses building up during the 19th Century, and seeing the human being as just an automaton easily expendable like some used or broken toaster.

    This latter perspective of Russian leadership’s thinking can be attributed to Russia’s long-time flirtation with a perversion of what it means to be human, called Existentialism. Communist aspirations which deified the State bolstered this aberrant obsession with viewing the individual as some featureless/faceless cog in a wheel whose existence is predicated only on serving the State.

    Little wonder then that an existentialist-like person such as Steve Bannon admires Russian culture, similarly lacks a firm religious foundation, and accounts for his fascination with whiteness inspired to a large extent by infatuation with what he sees as a nation with a largely white homogeneous population—something which appeals to him visually and on a gut level.


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