Among Russia’s Twitter trolls, Senator Warren’s a favorite target

Among Russia’s Twitter trolls, Senator Warren’s a favorite target

Donald Trump is not the only American politician with a big following in Russia. I’ve been searching the 2017 tweets, about a million in all, and the experience has left me more convinced than ever that reading Twitter is largely a waste of time. I found about 700 tweets mentioning his full name, compared to the 560 that came up when I typed “Elizabeth Warren.” Then again, Warren gets another 400 mentions if you search under “Pocahontas,” Trump’s nasty nickname for the senator. One account, “covfefenationUS,” which had about 2,500 followers, pumped out more than 250 anti-Warren messages in the month of November alone, most of them calling her “an awful senator” and “racist fraud,” while other messages refer to her as a “liberal whack job” or “a fake and a hack.” Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, an independent, is denounced as “a commie,” a “conman” and “a complete idiot.” These messages read more like Joe Sixpack than Boris Badenov. How do we know they really came from Russia? Because Twitter says so. Linvill and Warren (no relation to the senator) sorted the Twitter accounts into several categories, including more than 600 trolls who sent messages seeking to build up Trump and other right-wing politicians, and 230 who talked up left-wing causes. And I found about 100 tweets praising Bernie Sanders for standing up for veterans and against big pharmaceutical companies. to make sure everybody is talking about the information you stole,” Francois said. “What they’re doing at the end of the day,” Francois said, “is to increase division.” So it doesn’t matter to the Russian trolls whether Elizabeth Warren retains her Senate seat in the November election.

Don Blankenship’s New Xenophobic Campaign Ad Sparks Twitter Fury
Trump’s Twitter Fury at McConnell Risks Alienating a Key Ally
McConnell’s Twitter blasts Barstool Sports: ‘watch your mouth, fellas’
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts

Donald Trump is not the only American politician with a big following in Russia. Massachusetts’ own Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren is also a favorite in St. Petersburg — but for all the wrong reasons.

It turns out that Warren is a popular target of Russian Twitter trolls, who cranked out hundreds of hostile messages about her last year. A handful of others sing her praises.

All this emerges from a treasure trove of trash talk generated by the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-backed outfit in St. Petersburg that tampered with US elections by remote control. Three million of these Russian tweets, transmitted between mid-June of 2015 and May 2018, were captured by researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina, who organized and released them for wider reading.

I’ve been searching the 2017 tweets, about a million in all, and the experience has left me more convinced than ever that reading Twitter is largely a waste of time. But it has also convinced me that no amount of technology can neutralize this sort of political sabotage.

Warren, who declined to comment on the matter, isn’t the only New England politician to earn the wrath of the Russians. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders got hit hard, too. I found about 700 tweets mentioning his full name, compared to the 560 that came up when I typed “Elizabeth Warren.” Then again, Warren gets another 400 mentions if you search under “Pocahontas,” Trump’s nasty nickname for the senator.

One account, “covfefenationUS,” which had about 2,500 followers, pumped out more than 250 anti-Warren messages in the month of November alone, most of them calling her “an awful senator” and “racist fraud,” while other messages refer to her as a “liberal whack job” or “a fake and a hack.”

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, an independent, is denounced as “a commie,” a “conman” and “a complete idiot.”

These messages read more like Joe Sixpack than Boris Badenov. How do we know they really came from Russia? Because Twitter says so. The company spent months looking for clues, like the digital…

Pin It on Pinterest

Shares
Share This