The federal indictment charging 12 Russian agents on Friday with hacking Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign includes an allegation that a Twitter account, @BaltimoreIsWhr, to invite people to join a “flash mob” and to post images using the hashtag “#BlacksAgainstHillary.”
It is the latest revelation of how social media was used locally and nationally in an attempt to influence the election. Cyber security analysts in September told The Baltimore Sun that a Facebook ad that referred to the Black Lives Matter movement and targeted Baltimore users in the months following the 2015 riots was likely part of a broader effort by Russia to sow discontent and deepen racial tension.
On Friday, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, announced indictments against 12 Russian intelligence officials, charging them with hacking Clinton's campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The 11-count indictment charges the Russian agents with conspiracy against the U.S., money lauderning and attempting to break into state boards of elections and other agencies.
In response to such ads, the General Assembly in April passed a bill requiring social media platforms and websites with significant traffic to track all political ads and record which users are being targeted. In May, Gov. Larry Hogan expressed reservations that the law could be found unconstitutional and allowed the bill to become law without his signature.
The @BaltimoreIsWhr account has been suspended.