There is something sinister happening in the United States right now. It isn’t just Trump’s possible collusion with foreign interests to subvert our democracy or the fact that Russia meddled in the U.S election process. No, this is a sinister war being waged for the minds, and votes, of conservatives in our nation. A war that is being won, and part of the battleground is Facebook. Namely, in far-right Facebook groups.
These groups are a sounding board for the echo chamber many find themselves in. They are in a bubble unwilling to have civil discourse with anyone that doesn’t fit the narrative they have become accustomed to. In their world, Barack Obama is a Kenyan Muslim socialist, Michelle Obama is transgender, and Democrats want to take your guns away. If you happened to have come across facts that tell you otherwise, well you’re just a stupid “libtard.” A phrase many with a hint of cognitive ability may have become acquainted with, especially when questioning the validity of any crackpot conspiracies or blatant lies.
It was one thing when Americans simply had to roll their eyes at Alex Jones claiming Obama and Clinton are demons — or the late, raunchy old Joan Rivers claiming Obama is gay and his wife transgender — but it seems that there is a never-ending onslaught of foreign fake news that is flooding far-right conservative Facebook groups. Even now after the election. Some of these stories are simple confirmation bias style misinformation, like Susan Rice is going to jail. But others that sneak their way into these groups have a far more nefarious agenda.
Spending an evening in these Facebook groups was definitely a daunting task. Reading through some of the most ignorant posts and comments on the internet leaves you feeling dirty. Here is just a fraction of what was found and how easy it is to identify the culprits. They range from purposefully inflammatory “polls” that will draw the reactionary click to defend your favorite politician to completely fake news stories suggesting new-found “proof” backing up already debunked conspiracies.
We will be looking at posts from just two right-wing groups today: Tea Party Conservatives For Freedom which has over 42,000 members and an Islamophobic group called Against The Islamization Of America which appears to have recently been shut down possibly due to some extremely graphic content being published in the group. It did, however, have over 90,000 members before its untimely demise.
A Trip Down The Rabbit Hole
“Muhamer Saliu” posted this knee jerk reaction poll in the Islamophobia group. The truly questionable aspect that drove us into checking out Saliu and his post wasn’t the “.ME” domain name but rather the additional “s” at the end of the word “news.” So we gave his profile a look and sure enough, Saliu is from Macedonia, a known hub for fake news being spread in the United States.
Of course, this could have just been a fluke. Maybe this guy really loves the United States and simply adores Donald Trump. This definitely called for further digging.
That led us to Jovana Jovanovska. She posted an article that claimed Susan Rice was likely to call a cell her new home. Of course, Ms. Rice is the current center of Trump’s wiretapping conspiracy at the moment, as the White House grasps at straws in an attempt to draw attention away from the fact that Trump and his campaign are under FBI investigation. Admittedly, it was Ms. Jovanovska’s name that drew us into checking out her profile. The results, however, were the same. As expected she hails from Veles, Macedonia.
But this was mildly prejudiced since her name seemed Russian so it was time to set out and find more which, as it turns out, took as much time as scrolling down a couple of posts.
Ah but again the eye was drawn to a rather Eastern European name posting another article that just reeked of right-wing click bait. The click bait for us, however, was his profile. We would love to report that he too hailed from Macedonia. Unfortunately, we don’t read Cyrillic.
Honestly, this next one drew our attention because of the awful grammatical errors in the headline and the fact that it was about Obama’s birth certificate. Far-right Tea Partiers can’t resist confirming Obama is a Kenyan Muslim. The Eastern European name just cinched it for us. Now this one was slightly tricky though. They were being slick by not listing where they live on their profile. Unfortunately for them, TianDe wasn’t trying to hide where they were located. You guessed it, Macedonia.
But this next one is by far the most sinister. Yesterday the news was flooded with images of children being hosed off after an apparent chemical attack on a rebel-held area near Aleppo in Syria. Assad, the country’s dictator, allegedly used Sarin gas to attack his own people. It would seem this next article is an attempt to sway conservatives in the U.S to believe that the rebels killed their own children in order to acquit Assad of any blame. A move that would seek to marginalize any outrage toward Assad for this dastardly deed.
This guy thought he was slick too. Unfortunately, he has that school pride. And the school is located in Macedonia. Surprise, surprise.
While many might find it funny that hardline conservatives were duped by such obvious fraudulent news and that they are still buying it hook, line, and sinker. It really isn’t funny. And Trump’s war on the media is only making it worse. With Trump calling the media the “enemy of the American people,” these conservatives are left without an avenue of reliable information and are even more prone to swallowing Russian propaganda whole. They won’t think to fact check or wonder why the “news site” they were on just phished their data. This is the only news they have left.
This is all we are publishing here. Just a small sampling. There were hundreds in just the two groups covered in this article and there are likely thousands out there.
So no, it isn’t funny. The Russian attack on the United States isn’t just cyber, it’s a psychological war on the minds of the conservatives in this nation. And it is being won on the battlefield of far-right Facebook groups.
Featured image as well as all other images that appear here via screen capture.