The Department of Justice'swho allegedly attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election depicts an social media campaign. Working with the Russian-affiliated Internet Research Agency, the defendants "posted derogatory information" about several candidates, the indictment says, and by mid-2016, their efforts included "supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton."
Social media posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter attempted to do just that — boost Bernie Sanders, support Mr. Trump and engage his potential voters, criticize Clinton, and suppress the minority vote, according to the indictment.
"It's backed by the Kremlin, and there are ties to (Vladimir) Putin there," CBS News' Jeff Pegues said Friday. "So what investigators are alleging in this indictment is that through this Internet Research Agency, the organization was able to influence events here in the U.S. by using social media to, for example, set up fake protests, in some cases, for and against Trump. Or against other candidates in the 2016 election."
Here are examples of the social media posts allegedly used in the Russians' influence campaign:
- In Oct. 2016, one month before the election, the operation allegedly used one of their Instagram accounts, "Woke Blacks," to post this message: "[A] particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we'd surely be better off without voting AT ALL."
- Days before Election day, on Nov. 3, 2016, the Internet Research Agency, according to the indictment, bought an Instagram ad for its "Blacktivist" account that said, "Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein. Trust me, it's not a wasted vote."
- Also in November 2016, their "United Muslims of America" accounts posted messages like this, according to the indictment: "American Muslims [are] boycotting elections today, most of the American Muslim voters refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton because she wants to continue the war on Muslims in the middle east and voted yes for invading Iraq."
- On or around Nov. 2, 2016, days before the election, the indictment claims, the defendants used a fake @TEN_GOP account to claim allegations of "#VoterFraud by counting tens of thousands of ineligible mail in Hillary votes being reported in Broward County, Florida."
- The election-related hashtags allegedly used included "#Trump2016," #TrumpTrain," #MAGA," "#IWontProtectHillary," and "Hillary4Prison."