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Ben Nimmo @benimmo
, 15 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
Thread: glimpse into a French-language info operation.

Early stages of the operation. Mainly audience building, but also targeting @EmmanuelMacron.…
This is the network of coordinated inauthentic behaviour which @Facebook took down ahead of the US midterms.

12 Instagram accounts, roughly 76k followers, of which 12.4k in France.…
Together with the great @camillefrancois, we reconstituted the accounts from online caches. This is a snapshot.

There were also Facebook pages involved, including this one, trolling Catholics' stance on IVF when Jesus had two fathers.
It's the second info op that we know of targeting France. This word cloud shows the topics which the Russian troll farm pushed in French in 2016-17.

Migrant, refugee, border, Syria...
Important: this looks like the early stages of an operation. Their followings were generally low, and most of the posts were focused on audience building.

Don't equate this with the major Russian troll operation against the U.S.
Political messages were in the minority. Those we found primarily targeted Macron, from a range of apparent viewpoints.

The nationalist account targeted him as anti-French and pro-migrant.
An ostensibly African one targeted him as a slave-driver; the actual post was about the World Cup.
This apparently liberal one targeted him as a banker.

"Two things which haunt bankers? Sleeping money... and the people waking up!"
Macron was by far the most-mentioned politician, and the mentions were routinely hostile.

Even the apparent green account got in on the act, accusing him of arrogance.
Much of the content was innocuous or positive, often focusing on ethnic minorities.

#beauty and #blackbeauty here.
This was the first time I've seen #hijabista and #turbanista as hashtags, I must confess.
A lot of the posts had hashtags like #follow4follow and #like4like, suggesting that audience building was still the goal.
We don't have conclusive attribution. Facebook concluded that the accounts were coordinated. They were found as part of a larger takedown of suspected Russian troll farm accounts.

The methods fit Russia's trolls, but those can be copied.

In that context, though, this was a noteworthy post.

A French ecologist sharing a photo with a Russian caption. (Паутина)

Could be innocuous, but an interesting one to note.
Overall, the impact was low. This wasn't on the scale of the Russian operation against the U.S.

Interesting for the fact that it was in French, the methods, and the fact that Macron was targeted so disproportionately. /

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