We are being subjected to a narrative that claims foreign operatives have amplified “divisive issues,” such as Black Lives Matter or opposition to fracking in order to sow discord. Such a narrative delegitimizes domestic dissent. It is also remarkably condescending. People don’t need Russians to tell them to be concerned about the police violence they experience or contaminated water they drink.
The latest upshot of this trend is Facebook’s takedown of an event page for a protest organized to counter the “Unite the Right Rally” planned for DC on August 12. Why? Because the social media conglomerate unilaterally decreed the racial justice protest was being promoted through “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” The implication being that the activity was tied to nefarious Russia-linked influence operations.
But it’s a legitimate event organized by local activists (well known to Defending Rights & Dissent staff) who hold the actual permit for the real life protest and who were using the page as an organizing platform. The local groups include Black Lives Matter DC, Smash Racism DC, and Resist This (formerly DisruptJ20).
We are disturbed not only that Facebook has deprived grassroots activists of an important organizing tool, but has maligned local activists as Russian agents. We are dismayed that so many in the media are uncritically parroting this claim, further compounding the tarring of local anti-racist activists as being part of a nefarious foreign plot to hijack our democracy.
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