In 2016, a Russian troll farm launched a covert social media campaign to divide American public opinion and to favor then-candidate Donald Trump over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
The US government's chief counterintelligence executive warned in a rare public statement Friday about Russia's continued use of internet trolls to advance their goals.
Even apart from politics, the twin crises buffeting the country and much of the world — the pandemic and race relations and protests — have offered fertile territory for misinformation or outfight falsehoods.
Donald Trump himself has come under scrutiny for sharing misinformation about a disproven drug for treating the coronavirus in videos that were taken down by Twitter and Facebook.
Officials described the Russian disinformation as part of an ongoing and persistent effort to advance false narratives and cause confusion.
They did not say whether the effort behind these particular websites was directly related to the November election.
Some of the coverage appeared to denigrate Donald Trump’s Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.
It also called to mind Russian efforts in 2016 to exacerbate race relations in America and drive corruption allegations against US political figures.
Though US officials have warned before about the spread of disinformation tied to the pandemic, they went further on Tuesday by singling out a particular information agency that is registered in Russia, InfoRos.
InfoRos operates a series of websites — InfoRos.ru, Infobrics.org and OneWorld.press — that have leveraged the pandemic to promote anti-Western objectives and to spread disinformation.
Officials say the sites promote their narratives in a sophisticated but insidious effort that they liken to money laundering, where stories in well-written English — and often with pro-Russian sentiment — are cycled through other news sources to conceal their origin and enhance the legitimacy of the information.
The sites also amplify stories that originate elsewhere, the government officials said.
An email to InfoRos was not immediately returned Tuesday.
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