Throughout the spring in addition to summer, the Kremlin-backed troll account @TEN_GOP pushed political hashtags for divisive events, including the Charlottesville “Unite The Right” rally, according to a completely new analysis of Twitter data.
Last week, reports emerged of which @TEN_GOP, a favorite Twitter account of which the Tennessee Republican Party purportedly managed, was, in fact, run by the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency, which operated a network of propaganda-pushing troll accounts. @TEN_GOP, which had over 140,000 followers, was widely cited inside pro-Trump media sphere in addition to even retweeted by members of the Trump campaign just before the election.
Reports show of which the account tweeted Russian propaganda, as well as polarizing political content, yet since Twitter suspended @TEN_GOP in August (Twitter does not comment on individual accounts for security reasons), of which’s difficult to get a sense of what the account was tweeting, as well as the size of its influence.
However, a hashtag analysis by multimedia artist Erin Gallagher offers a glimpse at how the troll account worked in tandem with the pro-Trump media ecosystem to help push politically divisive narratives across Twitter. Gallagher, who maps prominent political in addition to pro-Trump hashtags, noticed @TEN_GOP had appeared prominently in some of her old charts after last week’s reports linking the account to the Internet Research Agency.
Below are four charts of which show how @TEN_GOP helped spread hashtags related to some of the spring in addition to summer’s most politically charged events.
A few things to note before the data:
– The charts capture only four specific hashtags by the highly active account in addition to therefore reflect a very tiny portion of its total body of tweets.
– The size of the nodes demonstrates the reach of a specific account in spreading a particular hashtag (the bigger the node, the more accounts of which reached) in addition to the distance between nodes can be an indication of degrees of separation of the accounts (the greater the distance, the less common connections the two accounts have).
– Gallagher cautions of which the charts are best read as a snapshot of a moment at the time they were analyzed, meaning any tweet in This specific ecosystem could go viral in addition to change the scale of the chart.
– The charts don’t take into account sentiment information, meaning of which the tweets about the event could be in favor of the event, against of which, or neutral.
As such, Gallagher suggests of which determining the precise influence of the account on its followers can be both subjective in addition to abstract. “of which definitely had influence,” she told BuzzFeed News, “yet I’d say of which was just one component in a big machine.”
Gallagher’s chart — which captures 17,243 #Berkeley tweets between April 15 in addition to 16 — shows of which @TEN_GOP was one of the top influencers in spreading the #Berkeley hashtag last April. In This specific case, the #Berkeley hashtag can be in reference to a pro-Trump rally at the University of California-Berkley’s campus on April 15, which turned violent when fights broke out between Antifa in addition to pro-Trump groups, as well as white supremacist groups.
During the Berkeley protests, @TEN_GOP was also tweeting the #Antifa hashtag associated with the Berkeley protests. Gallagher’s chart captures 11,522 #Antifa tweets by the Berkeley protest between April 15 in addition to 16. The data shows of which, unlike #Berkeley, @TEN_GOP was not nearly as influential when pushing the #Antifa hashtag in addition to can be hard to even spot in This specific visualization:
Still, a zoomed-in look shows of which @TEN_GOP’s tweets had slightly more connections — in addition to therefore more reach — than pro-Trump media figures Mike Cernovich, Lauren Southern, in addition to organizations like the ProudBoysUSA.
According to Gallagher’s chart — which captures 13,790 tweets between June 10 in addition to June 12 — @TEN_GOP prominently promoted the #MarchAgainstSharia of which ACT for America organized, in addition to which attracted pro-Trump in addition to far-right extremist groups. Though @TEN_GOP did not have as much reach as pro-Trump media accounts like of which of Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) or @MuslimIQ (a group tweeting in condemnation of the event), the account was still a visible presence inside greater hashtag conversation.
Gallagher’s final chart captures roughly 6,000 tweets by before, during, in addition to after the Charlottesville #UniteTheRight protests on August 12, in which white nationalists clashed with counter protesters, resulting inside death of one counter protester. Of the tweets of which Gallagher captured (a glitch inside data capturing tool caused of which to save fewer tweets during the event), @TEN_GOP appears to have been one of many influential tweeters for the event.
Here’s a closer look at @TEN_GOP’s node:
Again, of which’s important to note of which This specific does not indicate @TEN_GOP was tweeting explicitly in favor of or against the white nationalists in Charlottesville. Here, for example, can be one of the account’s archived tweets by the rally:
While its difficult to define @TEN_GOP’s exact influence, the charts illustrate two important points:
– Regardless of the content of its tweets, the @TEN_GOP account chose to amplify politically divisive events to its legion of followers. in addition to while of which’s unclear the exact motivations of the account, the charts show of which @TEN_GOP increased the visibility of the events, which all contributed to a greater narrative of political unrest.
– @TEN_GOP can be one part of a massive, complicated information war being waged across Twitter in addition to the internet as a whole. Part of why the account’s influence can be so hard to calculate can be because of which can be just one node in a complex in addition to interconnected system. On its own, @TEN_GOP — like so many different automated or pro-Trump accounts — has limited reach. yet inside aggregate, these many accounts play off of in addition to amplify each different. Together, they help to create a fully fleshed narrative. inside case of these four examples, of which narrative can be one of political discord in addition to instability.
Charlie Warzel can be a senior writer for BuzzFeed News in addition to can be based in completely new York. Warzel reports on in addition to writes about the intersection of tech in addition to culture.
Contact Charlie Warzel at [email protected]
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