Is Russia Behind Calexit?

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By Mert Erenel, Staff Writer

Following last year’s election, #Calexit started to pop up on Twitter and other social media platforms. Calexit, a movement supporting the secession of California from the United States in response to President Donald Trump’s election, became highly popular online, and, according to Business Insider, gained support from one-third of California’s population. But is this a legitimate movement by liberal activists or, as new evidence suggests, an intervention by the Russian government to destabilize the U.S political infrastructure?

Due to the Senate’s hearings regarding Russia’s involvement with the presidential election, Twitter released data on Russian troll accounts. Hours into election night, the hashtag #Calexit was 100,000 times on Twitter by bots and fake accounts used by Russians agents. Through cyber warfare, Russia is using this tactic of propaganda to increase the political chaos within the U.S. From a strategic standpoint, Russia, of course, has much to gain from destabilizing the United States. For example, Calexit didn’t happen because the Russians encouraged Californians to do so. Many Californians were likely already entertaining secession. But incentive is key and that’s what the Russians wanted to give.

The same thing happened in Texas, where a fake Facebook page owned by Russian trolls created an anti-Muslim event called “Stop Islamization of Texas” as well as a fake counter-event to draw in protests from both sides so that they would clash in the streets. The goal was simple: make an already divided nation even more divided.

The worst part about cyber warfare is the ambiguity of the source — or better yet, the source’s ability to cover their tracks by deleting any digital footprint. If Trump was the start, and Calexit was the followup, what else is there in store of the U.S. from its counterpart in Moscow? Is it possible that many of our newly formed political stances and views on Trump have resulted from puppeteering by the enemy?

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email Mert Erenel at [email protected]