According to Kansas, Russians were behind tweets that falsely claimed the KKK were marching on the University of Missouri's campus in 2015.

Russian actors using social media to sow discord in the U.S. have been an issue for a hot minute; most notably for inciting fear and rage amongst the black community. Several months ago, it was discovered that popular Black Twitter accounts were actually fake and linked to Russian accounts.  

In 2015, Mizzou made headlines when its black students came together to fight against racism on campus–an issue which  may have contributed to a sharp decline in enrollment. Now, a new report shows that Russian bots are to blame for stoking fear amongst students. 

During the heated 2015 protests, Twitter user @Fanfan1911 tweeted, “The cops are marching with the KKK! They beat up my little brother! Watch out!” A photo of a black boy with a bruised face was to attached to the tweet. 

The tweet was inconsistent with the campus event and the attached photo was actually from an Ohio incident, involving police a year prior.

70 bots retweeted the post and boosted the false message.

“The plot was smoothly executed and evaded algorithms Twitter designed to catch bot tweeting, mainly because the Mizzou hashtag was being used outside of the attack,” wrote Lt. Col. Jarred Prier, in his article about information-age warfare published in Strategic Studies Quarterly last year. “The narrative was set as the trend was hijacked, and the hoax was underway.”

Prier noted that these tactics were similar to those used during the Cold War, but that their effectiveness has been enhanced by the advanced technology of social media. 

“The most common sub-category of active measures is 'dezinformatsiya' or disinformation: feverish, if believable lies cooked up by Moscow Centre, and planted in friendly media outlets to make democratic nations look sinister,” said Russian Federation analyst Michael Weiss.

After successfully causing race-based distress at Mizzou, @Fanfan1911 went on to spread anti-Syrian propaganda in German that targeted German-language bots before switching back to English to spread pro-Trump far-right messages.