Trump is doing PR for Antifa in his speeches and makes tweets that only draw attention from the reality of 105,000 COVID deaths. More insidiously, it promotes the agenda of white nationalist groups like Identity Evropa.
Black Lives mothers, #BlackLivesMaters?
Trump as well as Matt Gaetz are somehow coordinating to disinform the public by citing a group, Antifa, that is not a group that can be designated a terror organization. What’s worse is that a real group, Identity Evropa, is behind the 2017 “Unite the Right” event in Charlottesville has spoofed a threat using Twitter.
There are in fact, 400+ fake “antifa” accounts created on Twitter. My favorite is the one that Anthony Scaramucci subscribed to: Beverly Hills Antifa @BevHillsAntifa7 — Created in April 2018.
A Twitter account claiming to belong to a national “antifa” organization and pushing violent rhetoric related to ongoing protests has been linked to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, according to a Twitter spokesperson.
As protests were taking place in multiple states across the U.S. Sunday night, the newly created account, @ANTIFA_US, tweeted, “Tonight’s the night, Comrades,” with a brown raised fist emoji and “Tonight we say 'F— The City' and we move into the residential areas… the white hoods…. and we take what's ours …”
This isn’t the first time Twitter has taken action against fake accounts engaged in hateful conduct linked to Identity Evropa, according to the spokesperson.
The antifa movement — a network of loosely organized radical groups who use direct action to fight the far-right and fascism — has been targeted by President Donald Trump as the force behind some of the violence and property destruction seen at some protests, though little evidence has been provided for such claims.
Josh Russell, an independent bot researcher who identifies foreign and domestic hacking and trolling operations, said events like the weekend's protests are ripe for this kind of platform manipulation.
“Any large 'online' event is going to have these types of things happen. Every bad actor that sees the opportunity to create some panic is going to leverage the situation to do so. It's nothing new,” Russell said.
Off Twitter, viral text messages of screenshots of doctored tweets have circulated throughout the country. Some of the false text messages claim that extremist groups are plotting to move into residential areas this week.
Bot researchers call this kind of disinformation distribution “hidden viral” text messages, which go undetected on mainstream platforms like Facebook and Twitter and can spread like wildfire without moderation.
“This is a common thing for foreign disinformation agents…They would be trying to get people to believe that things are much worse on the ground than they are.”
It is quite the projection, using Anifa as some monolithic threat to the state, when the greater threat now comes from common criminals including white nationalists. Only Trumpists could make up this kind of disinformation. More troubling is that syncretic support for right-wing groups is a common practice for Russian intelligence groups, aside from the support it demonstrated in 2016.
Not all its self-identifying “members” subscribe to the same specific ideologies, and not all condone all of the same radical tactics. And yet, the idea that the movement is a fully integrated, structured political organisation has stuck in the popular imagination, especially in certain quarters of the right, where the name “Antifa” is used to invoke the image of an organised, violent far-left threat to social order and security.
One of Antifa’s first conspicuous appearances during the Trump era was at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a large turnout of far-right and racist protesters were confronted by left-wing and anti-racist counter-protesters.
Antifa-identified activists have mounted conspicuous demonstrations many times since then, including against right-wing speakers on college campuses, and certain of the movement’s tactics have become familiar features of large left-wing protests – dressing entirely in black, for instance.