During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Russian government engaged in a sophisticated strategy to influence the U.S. political system and manipulate American democracy. While most news reports have focused on the cyber-attacks aimed at Democratic Party leaders and possible contacts between Russian officials and the Trump presidential campaign, a more pernicious intervention took place. Throughout the campaign, Russian operatives created hundreds of fake personas on social media platforms and then posted thousands of advertisements and messages that sought to promote racial divisions in the United States. This was a coordinated propaganda effort. Some Facebook and Titter posts denounced the Black Lives Matter movement and others condemned White nationalist groups. Some called for violence. To be clear, these were posts by fake personas created by Russian operatives. But their effects were real. The purpose of this strategy was to manipulate public opinion on racial issues and disrupt the political process. This Article examines Russia's actions and considers whether they violate the international prohibitions against racial discrimination and hate speech.
24 Michigan Journal of Race & Law 177 (2019)