Conservatives in the United States helped spread a fake video against “manspreading” that resulted in a misogynistic backlash against women.
The video purportedly shows a feminist woman pouring a mix of water and bleach on the crotches of multiple men riding on a subway, who were “manspreading” by widening their legs into the area in front of adjacent seats.
The website EU vs Disinfo reported on Monday that the video features paid actors. The report originated with the Russian language online magazine Bumaga, which interviewed one of the men seen in the video.
Conservatives in the United States spread the video, including The Blaze (founded by conservative radio personality Glenn Beck), The Daily Wire (founded by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro) and the website Chicks on Right.
The EU vs Disinfo website is run by the European External Action Service East Stratcom Task Force and was “set up after the EU Heads of State and Government stressed the need to challenge Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns.”
The website investigated why Russia Today, the Kremlin’s English-language propaganda website, was pushing the video to international audiences.
“The key to a possible answer is found in the reactions the video has been able to spur,” EU vs Disinfo explained. “In the comments section on Facebook, users express outrage against the alleged feminist activist, often in strongly misogynic language, with this comment as the most popular, gathering by now more than 14,000 likes:”
“In other words, the video stages extreme feminist activism and manages to provoke extreme anti-feminist reactions,” EU vs Disinfo noted.
They noted this video features a “central element in the modus operandi of the famous ‘troll factory’ in St. Petersburg” that was used to sow divisions in the United States during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign conspired with Russia to win the election.