Quick-hit: Did any Congressmen get suckered by the Russian Troll Farm?

By: Patrick W. Zimmerman

Want to know if you’re Congressman got trolled?  So does Principally Uncertain!

It’s….NBC to the rescue!?!?!?!  Really.

While Twitter has decided to protect us (and, conveniently, itself), by summarily deleting every old tweet associated with the Russian troll farm (they’re like the anti-Archive.org).  Leave no trace social media (yes, as a historian, this practice makes my left eye twitch uncontrollably).

We do have a list of usernames and tweet texts (both courtesy NBC News), even if they can’t be cross-referenced with the rest of the Twitterverse.

Hmmmmm, now only if there was a handy tweet archive that we could cross reference these usernames against. Oh, wait.  We do.  The CSPAN congressional corpus we use for our Trump Watch project.

It’s not complete back to 2014 (again, thanks, Twitter!), but it’s an interesting pilot…



Study says….

Ding!

3 hits from early 2017.  1 Republican representative and one Democrat (2 times) retweeted posts from troll-associated accounts.

  • 2017 February 24 – Democratic Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-2) is fooled by a pair of accounts.
    • “rt @crystal1johnson: 5-year-old kent girl re-creates iconic photos of notable black women for #blackhistorymonth shirley chisholm…”
    • “rt @blacknewsoutlet: ruby bridges the first african-american child to attend an all-white public elementary school #blackhistorymonth…”
  • 2017 May 2 – Republican Congressman Jeff Dunham (SC-3) retweets a single troll account.
    • “rt @pamela_moore13: newt gingrich: schumer is adopting a strategy that says: weaken america to strengthen the democrats…”

What does this mean?

Since the tweet dataset for Representatives is incomplete, not a whole lot.

…but it’s certainly enough to confirm my initial sense that:

  1. Trolls sought to integrate themselves with both Democrats and Republicans (note: this is not in any way meant to question the conclusion that the operation’s immediate goal was to further the election of Donald J Trump, Ratings Machine).
  2. It’s totally worth looking into creating that database of tweets.

About The Author

Architeuthis Rex, a man of (little) wealth and (questionable) taste. Historian and anthropologist interested in identity, regionalism / nationalism, mass culture, and the social and political contexts in which they exist. Earned Ph.D. in social and cultural History with a concentration in anthropology from Carnegie Mellon University and then (mostly) fled academia to write things that more than 10 other people will actually read. Driven to pursue a doctorate to try and answer the question, "Why do they all hate each other?" — still working on it. Plays beer-league hockey, softball, and soccer. Professional toddler wrangler. Likes dogs, good booze, food, and horribly awesome kung-fu movies.

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