listen to black women: russian agent edition

December 21, 2018
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Welcome to another installment of “why don’t people just listen to Black women?”

This week, we found out more information about Russian meddling in the US 2016 election. They  found that Russian agents used every major social media platform to spread misinformation and chaos, specifically targeting Black folks.  

In a report prepared for the Senate, we found the extent to which Russians working with the Internet Research Agency, which is now facing criminal charges, sought to put Trump in the White House. “What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party — and specifically Donald Trump. Trump is mentioned most in campaigns targeting conservatives and right-wing voters, where the messaging encouraged these groups to support his campaign. The main groups that could challenge Trump were then provided messaging that sought to confuse, distract and ultimately discourage members from voting,” the report found.

But in another report the Senate Intelligence Committee commissioned  from New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company specializing in disinformation,showed Russian agents were targeting Black voters. The misinformation campaign was meant to get Black voters to not vote for Hillary Clinton or to stay home on election day altogether.

“The IRA created an expansive cross-platform media mirage targeting the Black community, which shared and cross-promoted authentic Black media to create an immersive influence ecosystem,” the report said.

Accounts like “Black Matters US ” on Instagram and “Blacktavist” on Facebook were found to be run by Russian agents pretending to represent racial justice issues in order to manipulate Black voters.

There are plenty of reasons for Black voters to have been skeptical of Clinton and the 2016 democratic process. But we should also be clear the fact that Russian agents wanted to use us to help usher in a Trump presidential win.

But here’s the thing. This problem could have been all but prevented by just listening to what Black women online have been saying for years. Shafiqah Hudson started #YourSlipIsShowing, a social media campaign to highlight the discord being sown among Black feminists on Twitter.



Writer I’Nasah Crockett summarized what Black women had been experiencing online: “What we uncovered was an extended year-long plan, where 4chan users were to set up fake accounts where they would pretend to be Black women, women of color, trans women, and otherwise marginalized folks, infiltrate our spaces, study how we operate, then wage hashtag war.” So Black women, again, were sounding the alarm, doing the investigation themselves, finding crucial evidence the mainstream media didn’t catch, and no one gave them the attention, credit, or funding they deserved.”

 Had the Twitter powers that be just listened to what Black women were saying about their experiences, perhaps this problem wouldn’t have come as a shock to anyone.



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