Talking Points Memo has conducted a survey of accounts suspended by Twitter for being run by Russian “troll farms” and found that the accounts engaged en masse in a distinct pattern of right-wing demagoguery, promoting “divisive” narratives. Those narratives, which favor now-President Donald Trump, attacked Black Lives Matter activists, undocumented immigrants and other groups demonized by the right.
The “troll farm” TPM focused their report on appears to be run by the same Russian group that purchased at least $100,000 worth of ads on Facebook. One of their main Twitter accounts, the now-suspended “@tpartynews,” was operated by a group called the Federal News Agency out of St. Petersburg, Russia, but posed as a right-wing American user. It had roughly 22,000 followers when it was suspended.
Though @tpartynews appeared to be a fairly generic pro-Trump bot, the people who programmed it “also managed to work in anti-BLM sentiment wherever it could.”
Among those messages were claims that BLM protesters were heard shouting “F*ck this flag! F*ck this country!” at a Trump rally in Wisconsin last August. It also picked up a news story about a mixed-race group of young men “who allegedly shouted ‘black lives matter’ as they assaulted seven white victims.”
Though Ohio court records viewed by TPM showed that the worst sentencing any of them received was a small fine, the local news story was picked up by right-wing media outlets like Breitbart, The Blaze and PJ Media. None of those sites, nor the Russian troll bot, followed up on the story.
Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief security officer, wrote in a post after news broke about the massive Russian ad buy, that the ads “appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.”
If the Federal News Agency “farm” is run by the same group that purchased the Facebook ads, their tweets would fit that M.O., TPM notes.
Read the extensive report on the pro-Trump troll farm’s links to Russia via Talking Points Memo.