Russian trolls raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars by flooding U.S. social media with 2016 campaign propaganda.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation confirmed findings by U.S. intelligence services that showed Kremlin-linked firms took part in a vast and coordinated campaign to tip the presidential election to Donald Trump, and a new analysis shows those companies profited financially from those efforts, reported NBC News.
Accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency generated up to nearly $1 million by pushing out false or misleading content, according to new research by cybersecurity firm Symantec, and they then used automated accounts to amplify their messages.
This carefully planned operation set up accounts pretending to be regional news outlets or political organizations in summer 2014, but mostly lay dormant until January 2015.
Symantec identified 123 main accounts and 3,713 automated accounts from data provided by Twitter, and the company found the propaganda was evenly split between pushing extremes on both the liberal and conservative political divide.
Some of the accounts pushed an ad to Twitter users who clicked on the link, which generated almost $1 million for one account, and smaller but still substantial sums for others.
Celebrities and other figures — including Trump and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey — retweeted some of this Russian propaganda, and the most popular account gained 150,000 followers and generated more than 6 million retweets.
That account, @TEN_GOP, masqueraded as a Tennessee Republican group, and pushed pro-Russia messages, along with racist memes and right-wing conspiracy theories.