CHICAGO (AP) — The State Department says Russia is using a well-developed online operation that includes a loose collection of proxy websites to stir up confusion around the coronavirus by amplifying conspiracy theories and misinformation.
The disclosure on Wednesday was rare for the Trump administration, which has been cautious about blaming the Kremlin for disinformation campaigns, especially around the U.S. election. Despite evidence that Russia launched a divisive disinformation operation on social media during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the State Department’s report did not examine how — if at all — Russia is waging another online influence campaign in this year’s election.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did, however, announce Wednesday that the U.S. would offer a reward of up to $10 million for information that identifies people working with foreign governments to interfere in the U.S. election through illegal cyber activity.
The department detailed a Russian-backed misinformation cycle