A person wearing a haz-mat suit carries a wrapped object out of an ambulance into Emory University Hospital after an ebola patient was taken in for treatment, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Atlanta. The fourth American aid worker sickened with the Ebola virus arrived Tuesday morning for treatment at Emory University Hospital, where two others have been successfully treated. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Photo: David Goldman
Photo: David Goldman

Cop shooting, Ebola scare in Atlanta invented by Russians: Report

The hoax had two different names, with two different hashtags (#EbolaInAtlanta and #shockingmurderinatlanta), but the intent was the same.

In mid-December, according to the New York Times Magazine, a shadowy group of Russian-employed Internet "trolls" apparently attempted to spread disinformation and confusion by breaking false news reports around Atlanta.

Both were part of a larger campaign, the Times reported.

In September, that same group was seemingly behind a large amount of false info — YouTube videos, "eyewitness" accounts on Twitter, cloned websites — to trick the residents of a Louisiana parish into believing they had just been attacked by ISIS.

As in that September incident, #EbolaInAtlanta was a hoax meant to stick with people long enough to scare them. 

"The attention to detail was remarkable, suggesting a tremendous amount of effort," wrote the Times' Adrian Chen. A recent Beyoncé single played in the background of a fake video, which also included a shot of a vehicle with the Hartsfield-Jackson logo.

On that same day, Dec. 13, Chen wrote that another group of accounts began spreading news of an unarmed black woman shot in Atlanta by police. The "news" included a video purportedly of the shooting itself.

All of this appeared to be the work of, or connected to, the Internet Research Agency, which Chen wrote "had become known for employing hundreds of Russians to post pro-Kremlin propaganda online under fake identities, including on Twitter, in order to create the illusion of a massive army of supporters."

Its cyber tactics routinely targeted the Russian government's domestic and foreign "enemies," as well as political dissidents, Chen wrote.

And one day last winter, it targeted Atlanta.

Read Chen's complete investigation of the Internet Research Agency here

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