That Uplifting Tweet You Just Shared? A Russian Troll Sent It

During a post-talk Q and A at a professional conference last year, I made the offhand remark that the Russian trolls were *not* particularly interested in getting Trump elected — what they wanted was to sow division. I don’t deny that Russian bots helped Trump become president; what I meant was that getting Trump into the office was not the end game, as evidenced by the fact the Russian bots consistently target moderate candidates. (My comment wasn’t too well received, by the way.)

This Rolling Stone article does a good job examining the workings of a Russian troll with 20k followers, who cultivated a woke liberal presence.

Professional disinformation isn’t spread by the account you disagree with — quite the opposite. Effective disinformation is embedded in an account you agree with. The professionals don’t push you away, they pull you toward them. While tweeting uplifting messages about Warrick Dunn’s real-life charity work, Tyra, and several accounts we associated with her, also distributed messages consistent with past Russian disinformation. Importantly, they highlighted issues of race and gender inequality. A tweet about Brock Turner’s Stanford rape case received 15,000 likes. Another about police targeting black citizens in Las Vegas was liked more than 100,000 times. Here is what makes disinformation so difficult to discuss: while these tweets point to valid issues of concern — issues that have been central to important social movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo — they are framed to serve Russia’s interests in undermining Americans’ trust in our institutions. —Rolling Stone