After Donald Trump’s top aides, the FBI is now looking into the president’s favorite sources of information to find out if any far-right websites aided Russian operatives to interfere in 2016 presidential election.
McClatchy reports Russian operatives used bots to “blitz social media with links to pro-Trump stories.” As a result, millions of Twitter and Facebook posts emerged on the internet, sharing links from pro-Trump websites like Breitbart and InfoWars.
What’s more, the bot attacks appeared to have been strategically timed. They increased whenever Trump was seen publicly struggling with his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
“Some of the stories were false or mixed fact and fiction,” an anonymous source told McClatchy.
Dissemination of conspiracy theories packaged as news by far-right websites like Breitbart and InfoWars was one of the most controversial aspects of the president race last year.
A BuzzFeed analysis found nearly 38 percent of news shared on some Republican-leaning Facebook pages and 19 percent of news on Democrat-leaning Facebook pages was false.
It was particularly alarming considering around 62 percent of U.S. adults get their news from social media, with Facebook being the top source.
Even more troubling was the fact that the then-Republican presidential candidate, Trump, was also getting almost all of his information from such websites. In fact, he reportedly still gets his daily news from sources like InfoWars’ Alex Jones and Fox News’ Sean Hannity, both of whom are not journalists but conspiracy theorists, and, apparently, trusts them more than the FBI.
“This may be one of the most impactful information operations in the history of intelligence,” one former U.S. intelligence official told McClatchy, of the latest investigation.
The news comes on the heels of FBI Director James Comey confirming the Department of Justice is scrutinizing Russia’s meddling in the 2016 race, including any possible contacts between Trump’s election campaign and Moscow.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Christopher Aluka Berry