A Russian troll farm last year launched a new campaign to stoke racial divisions in the United States by making it look as though African-Americans had turned against the celebration of Christmas.
The Daily Beast reports that website BlackMattersUS, which was hosted by a Russian troll farm in St. Petersburg, last holiday season started promoting merchandise that is purportedly targeted toward black people, but seems intended to convince white people — and Fox News — that black people hate Christmas. The website has since been shut down after being identified as a Russian troll site.
Included among the merchandise was a T-shirt that reads “black X-mas only” that features a Christmas stocking filled with a gun; a traditional Christmas sweater that has the caption “Thug Life” on it; and a shirt that says, “Say no! To ho-ho-ho.”
Although the over-the-top shirts were unlikely to succeed in creating significant racial strife in the United States, the Daily Beast notes that it’s only a tiny part of Russia’s campaign to sow division in the country.
“The Internet Research Agency used Kremlin funding to impersonate African-American, American-Muslim, and LGBTQ groups on Facebook, Twitter, and other parts of the social web,” the publication explains. “The groups gained hundreds of thousands of followers, and sometimes used them to push Kremlin talking points or to push real-life protests in the United States.”