Russia used 150,000 Twitter accounts to meddle in Brexit

A London Times investigation revealed that Russia employed a large army of Twitter accounts to "sow discord" before the Brexit vote. And it appears to have been quite successful, as newspapers like The Sun and Mail Online published tweets from the bogus accounts.

Russian Twitter accounts posted more than 45,000 messages about Brexit in 48 hours during last year’s referendum in an apparently co-ordinated attempt to sow discord, The Times can reveal.

More than 150,000 accounts based in Russia, which had previously confined their posts to subjects such as the Ukrainian conflict, switched attention to Brexit in the days leading up to last year’s vote, according to research for an upcoming paper by data scientists at Swansea University and the University of California, Berkeley.

From Business Insider:

A Kremlin-linked account tweeted a bogus picture showing a Muslim woman ignoring victims of the Westminster bridge terrorist attack earlier this year. This picture was subsequently reported by The Sun and Mail Online.

@SouthLoneStar's account has been suspended, because Twitter is pretty good at applying a new paint job to the charred remains of a house after it's been burned down.

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An alt-right Tweeter with 80k followers is a fictional entity created by Russian troll farm

Alt-right blogger Jenna Abrams (@Jenn_Abrams) enjoyed a large following in Twitter, and her tweets were cited by Buzzfeed, the NY Times, and other news agencies. It turned out "she" was another creation of the Internet Research Agency, the Russian government-funded troll farm in St. Petersburg.

From The Daily Beast:

Remnants from some of Abrams’ most elaborate conspiracies and xenophobic opinions still remain in replies from celebrities sparring with—or agreeing with—her account.

Roseanne Barr responded to one of Abrams’ tweets on Feb. 2, 2016, to call a common enemy “pro-pedophile.” Abrams’ tweet earlier in the day about a Saudi Arabian Starbucks went viral, meriting pickup from The Telegraph and Russia Today, and even a response from Starbucks’ corporate Twitter account.

Barr elaborated in a tweet later in the month, saying “dems repubs libertarians indies greens, black white yellow red-all religions” are “#PEDOPHILES.”

Even Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia and an expert in Russian propaganda, got into a number of Twitter spats with Abrams. McFaul responded to Abrams’ posts in 10 separate months between February of 2015 and August of 2016.

Before they knew the account was run by paid disinformation agents, Abrams’ ahistorical slavery revisionism irked journalists and historians alike.

Al Letson, the host of the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal podcast, received over 65,000 retweets and 153,000 likes when he refuted Abrams’ incorrect Civil War claim.

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