Russian operation masqueraded as right-wing news site to target U.S. voters: Reuters
LONDON (Reuters) - The Russian group accused of meddling in the 2016 U.S. election has posed as an independent news outlet to target right-wing social media users ahead of this year’s vote, two people familiar with an FBI probe into the activity told Reuters.
The latest operation centered around a pseudo media organisation called the Newsroom for American and European Based Citizens (NAEBC), which was run by people associated with the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, the sources said.
U.S. prosecutors say the agency played a key role in Russian efforts to sway the 2016 election in favour of President Donald Trump, and Facebook and Twitter exposed a fake left-wing media outlet in September which they said was run by people connected to the organisation.
NAEBC and its activity, which have not been previously reported, now show that Russian attempts to influence U.S. voters ahead of the 2020 election have targeted both sides of the political divide.
The website predominantly focused on U.S. politics and current events, republishing articles from conservative media and paying real Americans to write about politically-sensitive issues. A network of accounts posing as editors and journalists then promoted the articles on social media sites favoured by right-wing users.
Topics covered by NAEBC ranged from attacks on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement and praise for Wisconsin shooter Kyle Rittenhouse.
Russia has repeatedly denied allegations of election interference. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he did not know anything about NAEBC or the fake left-wing news site, Peace Data. “The Russian state does not engage in such activity,” he said.
The FBI declined to comment.