Fake Russian troll accounts don’t have to try very hard to fool Republicans, including prominent Reptile party figures like Donald Trump, Jr.
Findings by the Internet Observatory at Stanford, in combination with the meta-analysis company Graphika, show that Russian trolls are extremely active on the right-wing social media apps Truth Social, Gab, Gettr, and Parler.
The 35 accounts they found often echo one another, reposting the same bogus info in tandem – which should have been a red flag alerting people to their inauthenticity (but we are dealing with Republicans here).
They had a following of about 33,000 people altogether, but every once in a while a message they posted would break through to a much wider audience, using unknowing dupes to spread their falsities.
The researchers determined with “high confidence” that these are the same people behind the Newsroom for American and European-Based Citizens (NAEBC) that spread false stories prior to the 2020 election, which has been linked to the Internet Research Agency, the troll factory run by staunch Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Prigozhin recently boasted that, when it comes to US elections, “We have interfered, are interfering and will continue to interfere.”
The accounts generally concentrated on five things: supporting right-wing candidates, criticizing (and often lying about) Democrats, casting doubt on US elections, bashing Ukraine, and promoting Russian propaganda.
“As well as criticizing Democrats ahead of the midterms, the operation consistently promoted their Republican rivals, repeating widespread assertions that right-wing candidates would perform well at the polls,” the report said, adding, “All of the Republican figures promoted by the network were candidates endorsed by former President Trump who have questioned or cast doubt on the results of the U.S. 2020 election.”
They called the troll accounts “cheerleaders for Putin.”
In addition to pumping Republican candidates and right-wing conspiracy theories, the accounts consistently denigrated Volodymyr Zelensky, painting him as a corrupt official bent on embezzlement.
In a rather bizarre narrative, they connected Ukraine to the defunct FTX exchange, whose founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, is now in custody on charges of fraud.
They alleged that Ukraine was behind the entire affair, funding FTX with money received from the US, often implying a quid pro quo from Democratic pols.
Despite all the obvious signs that these were dummy accounts, they still fooled dummies like Donald Trump Jr.
Several made themselves appear as if they derived from musician Kid Rock, simply by using names like KidRockOfficial, even though they described themselves as fan pages to avoid being booted off the platforms for falsely identifying themselves.
In one post, a troll somehow linked a crazy conspiracy theory about oil to an even crazier one about Ivermectin being a cure for Covid that the government just wants to keep from us.
Donny Jr. replied with a “Yup.”
It got 222,000 likes from his 6.1 million Instagram followers.
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Other accounts looking to be popular with right-wingers purported to be from Mel Gibson. (I know – put away your shocked face.)
Another shocker: they were big supporters of Kari Lake, who they promoted with brilliant posts like this one:
The bottom line: it’s sure easy to fool people when they like the lies they hear. And it’s even easier when they’re Republicans.
Also worth noting is the fact that these platforms like to brag that they’re uncensored and unfiltered – the same direction Elon Musk is now taking Twitter in.
Well, Elon, when you allow for drek, you get drek.
These apps are burning heaps of trash. Try not to make Twitter into a complete, city-sized dumpster fire.
Little Donny boy is sure gonna be mad at Ross now! He might even tell his daddy, Florida Guy.
But you can help Ross fight back by following him on Twitter: @RossRosenfeld