The “truck convoy” protests that have overtaken Ottawa and Windsor this week are gaining similar momentum with U.S. anti-vaccination groups, but many of the social media accounts associated are from overseas and are not real, according to a report from NBC News.
Some Facebook groups that have promoted American “trucker convoys” similar to demonstrations that have clogged roads in Ottawa are being run by fake accounts tied to content mills in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Romania and several other countries, Facebook officials told NBC News on Friday.
The groups have popped up as extremism researchers have begun to warn that many anti-vaccine and conspiracy-driven communities in the U.S. are quickly pivoting to embrace and promote the idea of disruptive convoys, NBC News reports.
Here’s more from NBC News:
Researchers at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy first noted that large pro-Trump groups had been changing their names to go with convoy-related themes earlier this week. Grid News reported on Friday that one major trucker convoy Facebook group was being run by a Bangladesh content farm.
Many of the groups have changed names multiple times, going from those that tap hot-button political issues such as support for former President Donald Trump or opposition to vaccine mandates, to names with keywords like “trucker,” “freedom” and “convoy.” Facebook allows groups on its platforms to change names but tracks the changes in each page’s “about” section.”
The motivations of the people behind the content mills are not clear, but Joan Donovan, director of the Shorenstein Center, said the pattern fits existing efforts to make money off U.S. political divisions. (Read more on this here)
In Windsor, police are clearing protesters near the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge Saturday following days of disrupted travel and trade between the U.S. and Canada. Police are reportedly pushing the crowd of protesters away from the bridge to help end the blockade. More have joined the group since the morning.