As the Russia investigation continues, we are still learning more about how Russian trolls infiltrated American social media.
NBC News put together an analysis of retweets and activity from Russian trolls and found that a large number of retweets (578 to be exact) came from Donald Trump‘s official Twitter account. Additionally, 27 came from former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders‘ official account.
That tracks with the narrative that has emerged from this investigation that Russian trolls were focused on damaging Hillary Clinton‘s campaign, as Sanders was her opponent in the primaries.
However, the numbers also show that these Russians had a preference when it came to their favorite news pundits. For some reason, they were particularly fond of MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid.
Joy-Ann Reid’s favor with trolls
Law & Crime reported that raw data indicates 267 retweets for Reid from the Russian farms. By contrast, the next-highest favored pundit was Fox News host, Sean Hannity, who “only a handful” of Russia retweets, according to the analysis.
And yet this also fits with the narrative that has emerged from the Russia investigation. As more information emerges from the probe into Russian interference, especially on social media, it is believed that Russian trolls tried to get in good with the Black community by pretending to be Black activists.
We already know that Twitter and Facebook were infected by these agents who fed false news stories to the American public, but now Tumblr is the latest social media platform to be added to the list.
Further evidence found that Russian trolls have been working on Tumblr for years, specifically targeting young Black people and focusing on messages around Black issues and activism.
One of the most successful accounts run by the Russians was one called 4mysquad, which would garner hundreds of thousands of responses (reblogs, replies, and likes) with every post. Most notoriously, the account created a set of GIFs from video of a Black girl being sexually assaulted by a police officer, including a false claim that the officer was a member of the NYPD.
There is no evidence that any of the activists interacted with Russian trolls had knowledge of their true identities.
On Sunday, Reid herself tweeted, “Russia has played this game before—pretending to empathize with Black Americans’ plight as a way of playing them and stripping them of their rights. The Russian government is not our friend — NONE of us.”
As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues, their will likely be more people added to the list of 19 including four former Trump advisors, 13 Russian nationals, three Russian companies, a man from California and a man based in London.