Thousands of anti-Trump activists attended an anti-Trump march in New York City last November — including, it seems, far-left documentary filmmaker Michael Moore — organized by Russian operatives looking to influence American politics using social media.
The Russian group planned the protest on Facebook, organizing thousands of disenfranchised Americans, unhappy with the outcome of the presidential election, into a November 12 march from Union Square to Trump Tower. Using the name "BlackMattersUS," the operatives managed to share the event with around 60,000 Facebook users, and got nearly 10,000 RSVPs.
Between 5,000 and 10,000 people showed up at the event.
The Facebook event page, which is still available, reads "Join us in the streets! Stop Trump and his bigoted agenda!" and “Divided is the reason we just fell. We must unite despite our differences to stop HATE from ruling the land.”
The rally was the fourth such rally to take place in New York following Election Day, and one of many across the country. But, according to The Hill, the Russian operatives organized the rally deliberately, to fan the flames of dischord that emerged following President Trump's election, apparently in the hopes that such unrest might throw the United States into a tailspin.
But while the rally didn't manage to destroy the very foundations of American democracy, it did attract some famous faces — notably, it seems, Michael Moore, who "headlined" the march, and filmed the event for his forthcoming anti-Trump documentary, Michael Moore in Trumpland.
It's probably safe to say Moore didn't know he was being used as an unwitting puppet by the Russians, but it's interesting nonetheless, particularly given that Moore has, in recent days, been giddy with excitement over revelations that low-level members of the Trump campaign may have also been unwittingly influenced by Russian operatives.
Investigators who uncovered the BlackMattersUS activity say that, most likely, anti-Trump activists interpreted the group as being affiliated with Black Lives Matter, but in reality, the group is connected to Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian "troll farm" with ties to the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin himself.
According to The Hill, Facebook identified IRA as one of several Russian groups operating 470 dummy accounts and buying thousands of Facebook ads in an effort to sway the election. BlackMattersUS appears, so far, to be one of only a handful of Russian accounts still active after the election, and the only group to be facilitating ensuing unrest.
Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr have been working around the clock to remove these dummy accounts from their platform (oddly enough, a Tumblr account that appears to be connected to BlackMatterUS seems to have a quite the love affair with Michael Moore).