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Russia and China Meddle in the Rittenhouse Trial

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It has now been well established that both Russia and China used numerous social media platforms on the Internet to influence and stoke hatred and discord in America during the 2020 Presidential election. Anyone who refuses to see how this kind of propaganda on specific issues can divide a population is simply naïve at best or part of the disinformation at worst.

The use of social media is part of the disinformation war being waged in the USA and other democracies to stoke division and racism in their populations on a variety of local issues.

The most recent and daring attempt to do this has been with the Kyle Rittenhouse murder case, which just ended in a complete acquittal of homicides. This is the case where a teenager, armed with an automatic rifle (AR15), which was not his and was under age to possess, drove across state lines to help defend property from protesters along with other adult vigilantes also armed with such guns. Unlike the others, Kyle was not invited by the property owners to defend the property. He went with the obvious intent to provoke and to "act tough". He put himself and others in danger during that night and when some protesters challenged him due to the presence of a gun, tempers flared and things rapidly spun out of control ending with two dead, as one tried to take the gun.

It is this context in which Russian and Chinese hackers used social media platforms like FaceBook to spin more division and hate during the trial between those who think Kyle acted in self defense and those who think Kyle put himself in danger and provoked the whole series of events. There is also a race element in that, had Kyle been black, the police would have not let him walk down the street with a load AR 15 and would have arrested him after two men were killed. Yet, because he was white, Kyle was allowed to drive back home after killing two men and was arrested the next day!

Recent FBI analysis show that during the trial and events prior to it, both Russia and China tried to stoke discord in the American population over this. On Nov. 19-20, there were 32,000+ tweets on Twitter, all pro-Rittenhouse. Of those, 29,000 were from accounts with disabled geolocation. The FBI investigation showed that of those, nearly 18,000 were from foreign locations located in Russia and China, Both Russian and Chinese operatives were trying to divide and conquer with hundreds of fake personas on social media platforms and used advertisements to promote racial and social divisions.

Many Americans are indeed gullible when it comes to social media. They believe lies all the time, whether it is buying online from an ad on FB (and when the item arrives, it is nothing like described and from China). While on FB, one receives political ads or posts from oddly names "sources" that are clearly biased from the right or left political spectrum and believe it as fact! The narrative is simply to divide along any social issue in order to disrupt American democracy in general, to sow doubt in justice, voting, or political figures.

What IS amazing is that Russia and China decided to practice their propaganda skills on this murder case. What the US needs to do is stop this from happening, but in a free democracy, it is near impossible.

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