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Russian fake news bots bombarded black voters with anti-Hillary memes on Instagram and encouraged them not to vote during 2016 US election

The bots also encouraged black voters, who tend to support the Democrats, not to cast their ballots.

One analysis shows that black voters were targeted through memes and slogans on Facebook pages set by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA).

One page was called Blactivist, which had 4.6million likes, and Brown Power, which amassed 2.1million likes.

A statement that was posted on Blacktivist 10 days before the election read “NO LIVES MATTER TO HILLARY CLINTON. ONLY VOTES MATTER TO HILLARY CLINTON”, as a play on of the “Black Lives Matter” slogan.

Five days before the election the page posted: “NOT VOTING is a way to exercise our rights”.

The IRA is made of up of 1,000 people based in St Petersburg and has reached more than 126million Facebook users and at least 20million on Instagram, the US Senate reports.

The posts have ranged from provocative slogans and videos to websites that offer counselling for sexual health problems as well as asking volunteers to hand out flyers or to attend a “flash mob” demonstration.

Images on Facebook also included Jesus wearing a Donald Trump campaign hat where the US President and his running-mate Mike Pence are depicted as the “Jesus team” and Clinton and her running-mate Tim Kaine were the “Satan team”.

The two studies are being described as the most comprehensive study into Russian interference on American social media.

One report concluded some of the Russian government’s goals have been achieved and the interference will not stop.

Researchers from New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company in Texas, said: “With at least some of the Russian government's goals achieved in the face of little diplomatic or other pushback, it appears likely that the United States will continue to face Russian interference for the foreseeable future.”

The New Knowledge study says that there were 187million engagements with users on Instagram, while there were 77million on Facebook.

The second report comes from researchers at the University of Oxford and social media analysis firm Graphika.

It details how Russians stoked anger on the far right while actively deterring black Americans from voting.

Researchers said: “Conservative and right-wing voters were actively encouraged to get behind Trump’s campaign. Other voters were encouraged to boycott the election, abstain from voting for [Hillary] Clinton or to spread cynicism about participating in the election.

“These campaigns pushed a message that the best way to advance the cause of the African-American community was to boycott the election and focus on other issues instead.

“Messaging to conservative and right-wing voters sought to do three things: repeat patriotic and anti-immigrant slogans; elicit outrage with posts about liberal appeasement of 'others' at the expense of US citizens, and encourage them to vote for Trump.”

The bombshell reports come as Robert Mueller and the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the election has almost concluded its 18-month inquiry.

Trump has repeatedly branded the inquiry as a “witch-hunt” and denies that his presidential campaign colluded with Russian agents.

Mueller indicted Yevgeny Prigozhin, IRA boss and ally of Vladimir Putin, along with 12 employees in February.

Voter turnout among black Americans decreased in the US election for the first time in 20 years slipping from 66.6 per cent in 2012 to 59.6 per cent in 2016.

Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said: “This data demonstrates how aggressively Russia sought to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology.

"Most troublingly, it shows that these activities have not stopped.”

Facebook, Google and Twitter declined to comment on the specifics of the reports.

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