In the ongoing saga unfolding between a 54 year old conservative radio and Fox News host once dubbed “Right-Wing Radio’s High Priestess of Hate” and an outspoken 17 year old survivor of the Parkland school mass shooting, a new player has entered the fray: Russian Twitter bots.
A Twitter bot is software that sends out automated posts on Twitter. Most bots work simply, programmed to send out tweets periodically or respond to instances of specific phrases or hashtags.
Russian-linked Twitter accounts rallied around Laura Ingraham to further foment discord online over the weekend. The hashtag #IstandwithLaura jumped 2,800 percent in 48 hours. On Saturday night, it was the top trending hashtag among Russian campaigners, according to the Russian Twitter propaganda tracking website Hamilton 68.
Ranking in the top 6 Twitter usernames tweeted by accounts identified with Russian propaganda were @ingrahamangle, @davidhogg111 and @foxnews. The top two-word phrases used were “Laura Ingraham” and “David Hogg”. The website botcheck.me, tracking 1,500 “political propaganda bots,” compiled the data.
“This is pretty typical for them, to hop on breaking news like this,” Jonathon Morgan, CEO of New Knowledge stated. New Knowledge tracks online disinformation campaigns.
The bots focus on anything that is divisive for Americans. Almost systematically.”