Russia-backed FB page promoted ‘Stop Islamization of Texas’ rally

Russia-backed FB page promoted ‘Stop Islamization of Texas’ rally

A so-called "Troll Factory" operated out of Russia promoted a rally last year opposing what it deemed the "Islamization of Texas" using a Facebook page called "Heart of Texas," CNN reported Friday.

The protest — called the "Stop Islamization of Texas" rally — was organized around the opening of a library at an Islamic Center in Houston, which the Facebook page wrongly claimed received public funds.

The protest reportedly drew the attention of the Houston City Council days after it took place, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Texas reported violent comments posted on the Heart of Texas page to the FBI.

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The page was run by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian "Troll Factory" based in St. Petersburg, Russia, according to CNN. It was among the 470 accounts and pages turned over to Congress as part of Facebook's review of accounts operated by the Internet Research Agency.

The Heart of Texas page further illustrates how Russia sought to leverage social media to sow division in the U.S. during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

Business Insider first reported the link between the Heart of Texas page and Russia.

The Facebook page has since been suspended but had gained some 249,000 likes, according to CNN. It also included inflammatory posts propagating conspiracy theories and spouting Islamophobic remarks.

Among the issues pushed by the page was the notion of Texas secession from the U.S., calling for rallies just days before the presidential election in November. CNN, however, was unable to verify whether such rallies took place.

The U.S. Intelligence Community concluded in a report made public in January that Russia sought to wage a broad campaign to disrupt and influence the 2016 election. Those efforts have become the subject of a special counsel investigation, as well as numerous congressional probes.