Per a researcher request, we’ve assembled a list of the top most-retweeted tweets in the # StopTheSteal conversation between Nov 3, 2020 and Jan 7, 2021. Some highlights below.
Most retweeted StopTheSteal tweet was authored by @realDonaldTrump on January 3. It’s a quote tweet about the January 6 protest, to which he adds: "I will be there. Historic day!” It was retweeted 51,137 times (according to our data).
@realDonaldTrump 2nd on list, ~45,000 RTs, realDonaldTrump (Jan 3): 'Georgia election data, just revealed, shows that over 17,000 votes illegally flipped from Trump to Biden.” @OANN This alone (there are many other irregularities) is enough to easily “swing Georgia to Trump”. #StopTheSteal...'
@realDonaldTrump @OANN realDonaldTrump also posted the 3rd, 6th, and 8th most retweeted # StopTheSteal tweets.
@realDonaldTrump @OANN Perhaps more interesting, the account of GenFlynn (retired General Mike Flynn) posted the 4th, 5th, 11th, 13th, 17th, 24th most retweeted tweets in the # StopTheSteal data.
GenFlynn was much earlier to the StS conversation, with several tweets from as early as Nov 8. His retweet numbers (and placing among the top retweets) are more remarkable than realDonaldTrump’s numbers, because his follower count was much lower (about 1/100 of the size).
GenFlynn is interesting, because he was a focus of early QAnon mythology, and eventually embraced their movement. His account is highly retweeted by Qanon-affiliated accounts and he seems to create one bridge between those networks and the larger StopTheSteal movement.
This is a retweet network graph of the # StopTheSteal conversation. Nodes: accounts, sized by total # retweets. Edges: 3+ retweets of one account by another. Accounts in red have QAnon terms in their profiles. Note how red accounts cluster around GenFlynn.
At #32, 13500 RTs, @EricTrump (Jan 5): "Patriots — Who’s coming to Washington D.C tomorrow!!! Let’s #StopTheSteal" [This tweet has been deleted or removed, but EricTrump’s account is still active.]
@EricTrump Former Pres. Trump’s two adult sons were among the most prolific “repeat spreaders” of false and misleading claims about voter fraud. It’s interesting to see Eric also helping to mobilize the Jan 6 protests.
@EricTrump Top 10 most-retweeted accounts in our Stop the Steal Twitter data (Nov 3, 2020 to Jan 7, 2021):
@EricTrump top-retweeted accounts (11th to 20th) in Stop the Steal tweets:
@EricTrump Here’s a list of the 100 most-retweeted accounts in our # StopTheSteal Twitter data. [Note that our retweet counts are low estimates due to rate limiting during data collection.]…
@EricTrump Also, we didn’t add the StopTheSteal hashtag until Nov 8, so prior to that we were capturing w/ other election-related terms (election, vote, voter, voted, ballot, ballots, etc.).

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More from @katestarbird

6 May
Working on some visuals to help explain the dynamics of “participatory disinformation” and how that motivated the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol. Image
Let’s start from the beginning. We have “elites”, including elected political leaders, political pundits and partisan media outlets, as well as social media influencers who have used disinformation and other tactics to gain reputation and grow large audiences online. Image
We also have their audiences — the social media users and cable news watchers who tune into — and engage with — their content.
Read 22 tweets
30 Apr
Sharing a draft of a conceptual model I’m working on to explain how online social networks, algorithms, and human action are all mutually shaping. Yes, people choose who to follow and that shapes what they see, but those choices are shaped by the algorithms.
This builds from a “structuration” approach to understanding the mutual shaping of social structures, human action, & technology. I was inspired by @sinanaral’s comments last week at the Social Media summit discussing this relationship b/w structure and agency in online ads.
@sinanaral And it emerges from a conversation w/ @alexstamos about the role of our social networks in shaping what we see (and what we do) online. It’s not networks OR algorithms. It’s BOTH. And they work in interaction with each other, and human behavior.
Read 6 tweets
28 Apr
This domain (SouthFront) shows up a lot when we look at Russia’s activity w/in disinformation campaigns outside the US context — e.g. the campaign targeting the “White Helmets” in Syria. It’s one of an array of small propaganda sites they use to spread strategic narratives.
Southfront shows up as a (low-medium frequency) tweeted domain in Twitter conversations around the downing of MH17, criticism of NATO (~2017), and discourse around Syria (2017-2018). It also appears in early Qanon discourse (as a tweeted domain in tweets w/ #QAnon in them).
There are many similar websites that consistently pump out Russia’s strategic narratives. Here’s an OLD snapshot of domain co-sharing network (domains that were shared by the same user are linked) from MH17. Not all shared disinfo, but many did. Shows some now-familiar patterns:
Read 4 tweets
26 Apr
We (researchers) have been stressing the integration of coordinated & organic activity in the spread of online disinformation for a few years now. Facebook’s internal report (on platform use going into Jan 6) highlights the need for policy to address this:…
"A policy of coordinated authentic harm needs a broader definition of coordination to handle network or movement level harms and the interplay between organic and inorganic growth.” Coordination can be explicit (you do this, I do that) or implicit (like a flock of birds).
A lot of online organizing involves a small amount of explicit coordination that structures a large amount of implicit coordination. Here’s a 2012 paper, describing how groups of volunteers organize (largely through implicit coordination) during disasters:…
Read 4 tweets
9 Apr
Re-posting this for the morning crowd. My former PhD student, Tom Wilson, published his dissertation documenting the online disinformation campaign targeting the White Helmets (a humanitarian response organization) in Syria.
In addition to their rescue/response activities, the White Helmets provided documentation of war crimes (including chemical weapons attacks) by Assad and his Russian allies. The campaign against them sought to confuse Western audiences & delegitimize evidence of war crimes.
Dr Wilson’s work carefully documented several of the online dimensions of that campaign — including the network structure of online influencers and grey propaganda websites that consistently spread anti-White Helmets propaganda.
Read 5 tweets
21 Mar
This article really captures my sentiments (as a former player) about the equity issues with the NCAA women’s bball tourney (compared to the men’s)... it’s just exhausting to still be dealing with these slights, both big and small, after all these years.…
One story. It’s 1992. I’m on a recruiting trip to a school with competitive academics and an up-and-coming women’s bball program. They also have a top men’s bball program, and the men’s coach (a bball luminary) meets w/ women’s bball recruits as part of the recruiting process...
He decides to use academics as the hook, explaining to me (a 16-year-old girl) that I needed to prioritize academics (and attend their top-20 school), because there would never be professional opportunities for women in my sport.
Read 9 tweets

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