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Speaking in stolen voices: Impersonated propaganda and use of Queer and Muslim identities by the Internet Research Agency

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
As part of Russia's ongoing foreign interference campaign, The Internet Research Agency (IRA) appropriated marginalised identities and created impersonated propaganda, including the Facebook groups LGBT United and United Muslims. Guided by critical theory and informed by feminist, queer, and postcolonial perspectives, this study examined 500 posts from LGBT United and 500 posts from United Muslims, to explore the groups' content, purpose, and use of marginalised identities. Qualitative content analysis revealed several themes, including (Attempted) Identity Theft (efforts to appear legitimate), A Call to Inaction (discouragement of political engagement), "Us" Against the World (encouraging isolation and anger), and That's the Thing I'm Sensitive About! (potentially generating antagonism towards the marginalised community). Findings discuss the possibility that these posts are multitarget (intended to influence not only the impersonated community, but groups hostile to it), explore potential danger to marginalised groups, recommend consideration of proactive strategies, and encourage community partnership.
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Frank, Richard
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