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ℓʋℓʋ ℓɛ Who? @LuluLemew
, 20 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Russia’s social-media trolling op began stepping up its Twitter presence to new heights in late July 2017 -- more than 8 months after sowing discord and disinformation in the 2016 election. bloomberg.com/amp/news/artic…
This burst of activity-revealed in a new dataset of nearly 3m tweets-focused on pushed headlines & news stories originally from US-based, pro-Trump site, 'Truthfeed' which specializes in hyper-partisan, factually incorrect stories...aka Right-wing propaganda.
By 10/22/17, right before Twitter banned nearly all of the known accounts linked to the IRA's troll farm, Truthfeed content accounted for about 95% of the accounts’ English-language activity.
There’s no evidence that Truthfeed’s staff members were aware of the Russian tweeting. Each tweet pointed to a separate, now-defunct website that was republishing 50+ Truthfeed stories/day-ReportSecret[.]com. It appears to have been connected to the troll-farm operation.
Truthfeed publishes a syndication feed, but the its terms of service say that its content is “the exclusive property of Truthfeed and its licensors.”

It’s unclear whether ReportSecret was authorized to republish Truthfeed content.
Archived versions of ReportSecret listed its Twitter handle as @/SecretReportt, which is one of 2,752 accounts associated w/ IRA troll farm that Twitter gave Congress.

Messages sent by Bloomberg News to still-active FB/LinkedIn accts also listed on ReportSecret got no response.
▪Why did tweeting increase after July 2017?
▪Why did the Russian troll farm use Truthfeed’s content?

Clemson’s Linvill, who spent months studying IRA tweets, believes it signaled a change in strategy for the Russians.
For much of 2014 and 2015, Linvill says, the trolling operation spent a lot of time developing its own content. The op even had a dedicated art dept to churn out images, memes and new websites, which would have been costly and time-consuming.
The data that Linvill and Warren compiled, which include nearly all of the troll farm’s tweets since the middle of 2015, offer the clearest picture yet of Russian #disinformation efforts on Twitter.
July 31, 2017
-Tweeted 33x by IRA trolls
[“BOMBSHELL STUDY:
Voter Fraud May Have Resulted in Hillary Winning New Hampshire” claimed “thousands of illegal votes were counted.”]

But the study cited in article mentioned NH only once, saying it didn’t get any data from the state.
Aug. 7, 2017
-Tweeted 71x by IRA trolls
A story citing a local news report, saying a PA man killed his neighbor bc he had Trump signs in his yard.

But that local report said the neighbors’ fight didn’t involve politics.
8/12/17
-Tweeted 90x by IRA trolls

[“WTF?? Refugees With TB are Interviewing at Starbucks”]
Story cited Breitbart article mentioning a 3yo study saying 43% of Sub-Sahara African refugees in San Diego County had TB -- though it had no info on Starbucks’ job applicants.
IRA troll farm’s accounts moved fast.
@/IvaassNTR, had 0 follows when it first tweeted on 7/27/17, at 2:40pm from St Petersburg.

▪It tweeted a few times
▪Went quiet for 15min
▪Upon tweeting again, it was then following 986 other accts.
In mid summer 2017, the troll farm’s activity far outpaced anything it did before the election.

7/29-8/18/17 (3wk span)
IRA accounts tweeted 177,105 English posts- 3x more than during the 3wks leading up to election day on 11/8/16
The IRA troll farm increased its focus on tweeting about Truthfeed articles over time.

▪7/31/17, Truthfeed articles account for at least 24% of the troll farm’s English-language Twitter activity
▪10 days later, over 44% of their Eng-language Twitter activity is from Truthfeed
Mid-Aug 2017
▪Twitter shut down a number of the IRA troll farm accounts.
▪Troll farm then activated several new ones... focused almost exclusively on the republished Truthfeed articles.
Researchers at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center found that Truthfeed's popularity on FB also quickly surged past many established media outlets like WSJ and ABC News during the run-up to the 2016 election.
Truthfeed doesn’t disclose its owners or financial backers.

Ah ha...
For several mos in late 2017 & 2018, it shared some technical connections w/the personal site of:
Katrina Pierson
▪spokeswoman for Trump’s 2016 campaign
▪senior adviser to his 2020 re-election campaign.
Archived versions of Pierson’s website show it and Truthfeed used the same MailChimp acct. 🙄

Neither Pierson nor her attorney responded to requests for comment.
Dataset on Truthfeed & RU troll farm tweets can be found here:
github.com/fivethirtyeigh…

Cc @OpWolverines @emlas @SlickRockWeb
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