Russian Facebook accounts attempted to organize more than a dozen Florida Trump rallies during the election, the Daily Beast reported Wednesday:
The demonstrations—at least one of which was promoted online by local pro-Trump activists—brought dozens of supporters together in real life. They appear to be the first case of Russian provocateurs successfully mobilizing Americans over Facebook in direct support of Donald Trump.
The Aug. 20, 2016, events were collectively called “Florida Goes Trump!” and they were billed as a “patriotic state-wide flash mob,” unfolding simultaneously in 17 different cities and towns in the battleground state. It’s difficult to determine how many of those locations actually witnessed any turnout, in part because Facebook’s recent deletion of hundreds of Russian accounts hid much of the evidence. But videos and photos from two of the locations—Fort Lauderdale and Coral Springs—were reposted to a Facebook page run by the local Trump campaign chair, where they remain to this day.
The Beast reports that the Florida events were put on by a Facebook page called “Being Patriotic,” which had 200,000 followers before being shut down last month, and a Twitter account called @march_for_trump. The “Being Patriotic” Facebook page was shut down at around the same time Facebook revoked multiple accounts being run by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian firm American intelligence agencies have linked to an ally of Vladimir Putin.
The news comes after the revelation two weeks ago that Facebook also facilitated $100,000 in Russian-funded political advertising targeted at U.S. voters in the run-up to the election.
Donald Trump won 49 percent of the vote in Florida, compared with Hillary Clinton’s 47.8 percent.