A sampling of Facebook advertisements purchased by Russia shows clear intention to undermine Hillary Clinton in the U.S. presidential election in 2016, and probably Western democracy as a whole. But why would Vladimir Putin rally activists to protest homophobes in Kansas? It’s one of the more confounding sideshow questions to come from an ongoing investigation into how the striving superpower used social media to meddle in American politics. A trove of social media posts released Wednesday by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence includes two aimed squarely at LGBT people, including one promoting a counterprotest to a Westboro Baptist Church demonstration in Lawrence, Kan., last year. “I still can’t make the connection why a foreign entity would have any interest in activating LGBT voters against the Westboro Baptist Church, to rally a group of people you already know will be adamantly opposed. I’m just trying to wrap my head around it,” said Andre Torkelson, an LGBT-identifying political consultant based in Colorado, who focuses on targeting political messages at voters.
November 3 / The Advocate