A Facebook page called “Heart of Texas,” which had nearly 250,000 likes, has been suspended, as Facebook said it was operated by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll factory” out of St. Petersburg, Russia.
The page was very active during the 2016 presidential campaign and promoted the idea of Texas seceding from the United States and other “conspiracy theories,” and included “Islamophobic” remarks.
The page also promoted a protest event, called the “Stop Islamization of Texas” rally, and called for other anti-Hillary Clinton rallies just three days before the presidential election in November.
The “Heart of Texas” page falsely claimed a new library being opened at an Islamic Center in Houston was receiving public funds and organized the “Stop Islamization of Texas” rally around the library opening.
One of the people who attended the demonstration later observed, “Heart of Texas promoted this event but we didn’t see ONE of them.” It was also noted the page listed no contact information for anyone in Texas.
After the protest, the Houston city council became involved, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Texas reported violent comments posted on the page to the FBI. One of the comments read: “Need to blow this place up. We don’t need this shit in Texas.”
The “Heart of Texas” page was one of the 470 pages and accounts Facebook reported to Congress as run by the Russian Internet Research Agency, demonstrating how Russia used social media to try to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Business Insider first reported the discovery of the page in mid-September, saying “Perhaps the most revealing clue that Heart of Texas was not a project spearheaded by dissatisfied Texans was the language. The memes posted in the group contained typos, grammatical errors, and a general unfamiliarity with basic English phrases. Many didn’t make any sense.”
In late October, the page promoted a group called “Texit statewide rally,” stating, “Get ready to secede!”
The event called on Texans to protest “establishment robbers” and “higher taxes to feed undocumented aliens.” It also claimed that a “Killary Rotten Clinton” victory would lead to an influx of “refugees, mosques, and terrorist attacks.”
Another group reportedly operated by the Russians, called “SecuredBorders,” promoted a protest in Twin Falls, Idaho, titled “Citizens before refugees.”
Below are two screenshots which were taken from the “Heart of Texas” page before it was taken down.
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