Monday, September 23, 2019

A Ukrainian Facebook network loves America, cute puppies, Jesus, and Donald Trump

Judd Legum, at popular.info, reports on a Massive “I Love America” Facebook page, pushing pro-Trump propaganda, is run by Ukrainians. Not only that, they love cute dogs, patriotism, and Jesus.

Here are a few things to know.

The “I Love America” page regularly recycles memes used by the Internet Research Agency, the Russian entity that set up phony Facebook pages to benefit Trump in advance of the 2016 election.

The “I Love America” Facebook page has a massive reach on the platform that exceeds nearly all U.S. media companies. According to Crowdtangle, a social analytics company owned by Facebook, “I Love America” has more engagement – likes, shares, and comments – over the last 90 days than USA Today, one of the largest media organizations in the country with 8 million Facebook followers. Over the same period, the engagement of “I Love America” dwarfs major publications like the LA Times and digitally native outlets like BuzzFeed News. More engagement on Facebook corresponds directly to a bigger reach, and more people seeing the content.

… using “I Love America” as a starting point, Popular Information cataloged pages overwhelming or exclusively managed from Ukraine that cross-posted each other’s content. … Over the last 90 days, these pages have garnered 30 million engagements on Facebook.

… over the same time period, New York Times, typically one of the top five publishers on Facebook, had less than 18 million engagements. The Washington Post, over the last 90 days, has 14 million engagements. The reach of this Ukrainian Facebook network, repurposing IRA memes and cute puppy pics, is as large as the two most prestigious papers in the United States combined.

And here is where this is headed.

The reach of the Ukrainian networks is now being weaponized to boost incendiary pro-Trump content. …

Scriber thinks the ultimate aim is “bombarding Americans with false and divisive political material” in the service of affecting the 2020 election to increase the chances of a Trump victory.

“This is the free weekly edition. So it’s a great opportunity to forward to family, friends, and colleagues — anyone who might appreciate independent accountability journalism.”

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