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Report: Russians used Muslim-American Facebook group to spread fake news

The group sent out memes and other misinformation.


Andrew Wyrich

Layer 8

Posted on Sep 27, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 4:01 pm CDT

Russians working to influence the 2016 election used the name of a well-known Muslim-American group on Facebook to spread memes and other misinformation, according to a new report.

The Daily Beast reports that the Facebook group United Muslims of America was an impostor account run by people traced back to the Russian government that pushed memes claiming Hillary Clinton “created” al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State, and that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) created the group. It also reportedly posted that Osama bin Laden was a “CIA agent.”

Sources for the news website confirmed that the United Muslims of America group bought Facebook advertisements and used Twitter and Instagram accounts as well. All of the social media accounts have been deleted.

The Daily Beast’s report comes as Facebook is under increased scrutiny for its role in helping spread fake news during the 2016 election, particularly as Russian-backed agents spread misinformation to help elect President Donald Trump.

Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it sold $100,000 worth of ads to a Russian “troll farm” and found roughly 470 inauthentic accounts and pages it believed were “affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia.”

United Muslims of America is an actual organization. While it isn’t currently active, it has been part of various events over the past 30 years, the website reports. The former president of the real United Muslims of America had seen an unfamiliar Facebook page using the organization’s moniker “several months ago.”

Not all of the postings by the fake account were fake news. Much of the content debunked Islamaphobic myths and rhetoric, the Daily Beast reports, but would pivot to incendiary content at “strategic moments.”

The group posted a video that claimed Clinton “funded and armed” al-Qaeda and posted a meme of McCain with the text “want to know how your tax dollars are funding ISIS?”

You can read all of the Daily Beast’s report here.

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*First Published: Sep 27, 2017, 5:28 pm CDT