Coordinated Efforts on Twitter to Interfere in the U.S. Presidential Election Are Likely Foreign
Oct 8, 2020
This report, the second in a series on information efforts by foreign actors, describes what appears to be an instance of election interference on Twitter using trolls (fake personas spreading a variety of hyperpartisan themes) and superconnectors (highly networked accounts that can spread messages effectively and quickly). The report describes the methods used to identify the questionable accounts and lists recommendations for response.
Tools for Detecting Online Election Interference
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Given past threats to U.S. elections, it is possible that foreign actors will again try to influence the U.S. political campaign season of 2020 via social media. This report, the second in a series on information efforts by foreign actors, lays out the advocacy communities on Twitter that researchers identified as arguing about the election. It goes on to describe what appears to be an instance of election interference in these communities using trolls (fake personas spreading a variety of hyperpartisan themes) and superconnectors (highly networked accounts that can spread messages effectively and quickly). Although the origin of the accounts could not be identified definitively, this interference serves Russia's interests and matches Russia's interference playbook. The report describes the methods used to identify the questionable accounts and offers recommendations for response.
This research was sponsored by Cal OES and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).
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