Two stories were trending in Russian influence networks on Wednesday, Aug. 8. The first was a claim by an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq that U.S. forces had bombed its position, killing several members and also some members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The claim was denied by a U.S. coalition spokesperson. The second story related to the firing of a Google employee who wrote an internal manifesto against diversity.
In both cases, users amplified existing hashtags as well as mainstream news content. Influence operations aim to raise the profile of certain themes and issues, but they don’t always create the content they amplify. This is likely the case with the Google story, which has been trending among far-right users.
Russia frequently amplifies content related to the far-right in both the U.S. and in Europe, but it does so opportunistically. It’s easier to amplify something people are already talking about than to create a trend out of thin air. In the case of the Iraq air strike story, emphasizing this incident helps reinforce anti-American attitudes in the region while promoting a Russian ally, so regardless of what actually happened in the incident, the influence network would naturally promote coverage (both by state-run media outlets and by mainstream independent media).
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