Last August, I wrote about a site that began monitoring 600 Twitter accounts actively engaged in furthering Putin’s agenda. More recently, Hamilton68 observed a dramatic increase of Twitter activity directed toward Robert Mueller, and not in a good way.
Between December 9 and December 31, we examined 182 unique articles that were among the top URLs shared by Kremlin-oriented accounts on Twitter. Twenty-nine of those articles (16% of all URLs) attempted to discredit the FBI, the DOJ, the Mueller investigation, or some other element of the so-called “deep state.” Attacks on Robert Mueller and his team were featured in roughly half of those articles (48%).
Wired has more.
The dense network of pro-Kremlin Twitter accounts tracked by the group Alliance for Securing Democracy has spent the last year spreading chaos and discord about topics as diverse as NFL players refusing to stand during the national anthem and Al Franken’s alleged sexual misconduct. It was only a matter of time, then, before the troll army set its sights on special counsel Robert Mueller.
On the website Hamilton68, the Alliance tracks some 600 Twitter accounts it says are associated with a Russia-linked influence network. According to newly released figures, in the month of December, by far the most popular articles shared by the trolls aimed to undermine Mueller and the Department of Justice’s investigation into Russian interference.
The pro-Putin Twitter trolls appear to act as amplifiers in social media, and they are amplifying the same tactics that Bill Clinton and his minions used against Ken Starr almost two decades ago. So why again have so many conservatives embraced the Democratic politics of personal destruction? Conservatives on Twitter should question whether their views are being manipulated by a foreign agency, in my opinion. More from Wired:
That the Russian propaganda network would step up its battle with Mueller in December stands to reason. It coincides with a cascade of news stories about the investigation, beginning with former national security advisor Michael Flynn pleading guilty to lying to the FBI on December 1. Later that same month, news broke that two FBI agents associated with the investigation had called the President an “idiot” in a text message exchange, news Schafer says the Twitter troll network was quick to jump on.
It also happens to track almost exactly alongside another infamous Twitter troll’s recent interest in Mueller. During the month of December—during which there was a major senate race in Alabama, a new tax bill, and a holiday—the President tweeted about the Mueller investigation in some form or another 17 times. That’s up from tweeting about it just three times in November.
Schafer acknowledges there “definitely, occasionally, is a correlation,” between the President’s tweets and the Hamilton68 network. As is often the case, though, it’s difficult to tell where the ever-circulating feedback loop between the President, the press, and the trolls begins. Maybe the media arouses the President’s sudden interest in a topic, which then rallies the Twitter trolls to action. Or perhaps the sudden uptick in online noise about a given subject seeps into the media, eventually inspiring the Presidential tweets. Wherever it starts, there’s no denying the synchronous relationship between the President’s account and this broader network.