Russians appear to have used Facebook to organize pro-Trump rallies in Florida during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to a report by The Daily Beast. This is the first time Russian propaganda-generators have been identified using Facebook directly to support then-candidate Donald Trump.
“On August 20, we want to gather patriots on the streets of Florida towns and cities and march to unite America and support Donald Trump,” read the Facebook event page. “Our flash mob will occur in several places at the same times; more details about locations will be added later. Go Donald!”
At least four pro-Trump or anti-Hillary demonstrations were organized over a Facebook page called “Being Patriotic” and a related Twitter account called “march_for_trump,” according to The Daily Beast.
Being Patriotic had 200,000 followers and among the events promoted was a “Down with Hillary!” demonstration outside Clinton’s New York campaign headquarters.
In a letter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Wednesday, a group of Democrats said tough disclosure requirements for political advertising are needed for social media companies like Facebook.
“We must address the threat posed by foreign citizen, companies, or organizations who aim to interfere with our political process,” wrote Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland, as reported by Bloomberg. Sarbanes said the FEC has the authority to make new rules without additional legislation from Congress.
Facebook is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee for a public hearing in October, although on Tuesday committee Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina said that, so far, the company has been “less than forthcoming.”