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Pro-Trump Youth Group Responsible For Facebook Ads Pretending To Be From Leftwing Group

June 30th, 2021 16:36

UK media report­ed ear­li­er this month that a dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing firm close­ly linked to the pro-Trump youth group cre­at­ed a series of decep­tive ads false­ly attrib­uted to a left­wing group and appar­ent­ly aimed at split­ting the Demo­c­ra­t­ic vote in close races. Accord­ing to the Guardian report, Face­book was aware of the true iden­ti­ty of the advertiser:

June 11, 20212 A dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing firm close­ly linked to the pro-Trump youth group Turn­ing Point USA was respon­si­ble for a series of decep­tive Face­book ads pro­mot­ing Green par­ty can­di­dates dur­ing the 2018 US midterm elec­tions, the Guardian can reveal. In an appar­ent attempt to split the Demo­c­ra­t­ic vote in a num­ber of close races, the ads pur­port­ed to come from an orga­ni­za­tion called Amer­i­ca Progress Now (APN) and used social­ist memes and rhetoric to urge left­wing vot­ers to sup­port Green par­ty can­di­dates. Face­book was aware of the true iden­ti­ty of the adver­tis­er – the con­ser­v­a­tive mar­ket­ing firm Ral­ly Forge – and the decep­tive nature of the ads, doc­u­ments seen by the Guardian show, but the com­pa­ny deter­mined that they did not vio­late its poli­cies. Ral­ly Forge would go on to set up a pro-Trump domes­tic “troll farm” for Turn­ing Point Action, a “sis­ter” orga­ni­za­tion of Turn­ing Point USA, in 2020, earn­ing a per­ma­nent ban from Facebook.“There were no poli­cies at Face­book against pre­tend­ing to be a group that did not exist, an abuse vec­tor that has also been used by the gov­ern­ments of Hon­duras and Azer­bai­jan,” said Sophie Zhang, a for­mer Face­book employ­ee and whistle­blow­er who played a small role in the inves­ti­ga­tion of the Green par­ty ads. She added: “The fact that Ral­ly Forge lat­er went on to con­duct coor­di­nat­ed inau­then­tic behav­ior with troll farms rem­i­nis­cent of Rus­sia should be tak­en as an indi­ca­tion that Facebook’s lenien­cy led to more risk-tak­ing behavior.”

Read the rest here.

Recent Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ing on US Repub­li­can Par­ty-relat­ed influ­ence oper­a­tions has included:

  • A report this week about a new anti “Crit­i­cal Race The­o­ry” group head­ed by a Repub­li­can operative.
  • A May report on how US Repub­li­can false claims about a stolen elec­tion orig­i­nat­ed with a Texas busi­ness­man and his associates.
  • An April report on how what were described as “polit­i­cal smears” helped to win four Cal­i­for­nia Con­gres­sion­al seats for Republicans.