Unfriendly Friendly Fire - Don’t Share the Fake Crowds
Last night was a remarkable night of expression and unity as groups from from cities and towns across the country — large and small — assembled for a “Nobody is Above the Law” message. It was the eve of the likely House vote on impeachment and people were expressing support for taking this somber but needed action. Hashtags such as #ImpeachmentEve and #NobodyIsAboveTheLaw were on fire.
But of course Russia (and Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale) were watching and ready for this.
And we should be ready for them being ready. The goal is to amplify existing divisions in Western countries. In the case of Brad Parscale, he wants to discredit the resistance to Trump at any opportunity.
As expected, Twitter exploded with posts showing groups demonstrating from all parts. There was a palpable energy in the air… that was magnified Twitter. My own post from a small riverside town in New York State received an unprecedented number of likes (~2500) and retweets (~950). That was the first clue. Too high.
First thing this morning, I checked the Twitter thread of a trustworthy source, @RVAWonk.
Sure enough, was it possible that Cleveland had the same crowd size a they had for the Cavaliers celebration? The exact same crowd, in fact.
The very same Cavaliers parade image was used by the Russian troll account, TEN_GOP to fake a Trump supporter rally. It was an image that could be easily revealed as fake, probably by many Cavaliers fans.
The goal of Russian troll content is to drive division between sides, not necessarily to take a side.
Cleveland isn’t the only place that had an unreasonably large crowd.
So did Toronto apparently. While many Canadians are not fans of Trump, would such a crowd gather on a cold night? No.
What’s the takeaway? Large crowd sizes will appeal to anyone supporting impeachment. It is candy to our confirmation bias. So, the next thing we’ll do is want to share or like. Stop. It’s bait to discredit. Always look twice.