TRUMP-CONNECTED FIRM HELPED SOW CHAOS IN KENYAN ELECTION, REPORT SAYS
LIKE JEANS AND pickup trucks before, social media misinformation has become the latest and greatest American export. A new report by Privacy International says that Harris Media, a Texas-based political communications firm that helped boost the Trump campaign, Benghazi paranoia, and German far-right politicians, found its most recent client in Kenya, where an October presidential election flared into deadly violence.
Harris rose to prominence last year for helping the Trump campaign, at least briefly, in its efforts to sway voters with images of violent immigrants and other largely imaginary menaces. Privacy International now says the company used the same playbook in Kenya, where “paid advertisements for two mysterious, anonymous sites in particular started to dominate Google searches for dozens of election-related terms in the months leading up to the vote.” The anonymous sites, which gave the appearance of being grassroots efforts, were in fact built by Americans at Harris, the watchdog group says in its report.
Harris Media did not return a request for comment.
Harris also used ads tied to Google search terms and social media to spread divisive, and at times untruthful, messages designed to be inflammatory. One Harris-created video made on behalf of Kenyan presidential incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta claimed that opposition candidate Raila Odinga would order “whole tribes and communities removed from their homes” if he were elected, which Privacy International notes is “an explicit reference to Kenya’s violent past” of tribal animosity and violence.