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(40,373 posts)
Tue Nov 26, 2019, 10:30 AM Nov 2019

That Uplifting Tweet You Just Shared? A Russian Troll Sent It


Here’s what Russia’s 2020 disinformation operations look like, according to two experts on social media and propaganda.


Internet trolls don’t troll. Not the professionals at least. Professional trolls don’t go on social media to antagonize liberals or belittle conservatives. They are not narrow minded, drunk or angry. They don’t lack basic English language skills. They certainly aren’t “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds,” as the president once put it. Your stereotypical trolls do exist on social media, but the amateurs aren’t a threat to Western democracy.

Professional trolls, on the other hand, are the tip of the spear in the new digital, ideological battleground. To combat the threat they pose, we must first understand them — and take them seriously.

On August 22, 2019, @IamTyraJackson received almost 290,000 likes on Twitter for a single tweet. Put in perspective, the typical tweet President Trump sends to his 67 million followers gets about 100,000 likes. That viral tweet by @IamTyraJackson was innocent: an uplifting pair of images of former pro football player Warrick Dunn and a description of his inspiring charity work building houses for single mothers. For an anonymous account that had only existed for only a few months, “Tyra” knew her audience well. Warrick’s former coach, Tony Dungy, retweeted it, as did the rapper and producer Chuck D. Hundreds of thousands of real users viewed Tyra’s tweet and connected with its message. For “Tyra,” however, inspiring messages like this were a tool for a very different purpose.

The purpose of the Tyra account, we believe, was not to spread heartwarming messages to Americans. Rather, the tweet about Warrick Dunn was really a Trojan horse to gain followers in a larger plan by a foreign adversary. We think this because we believe @IamTyraJackson was an account operated by the successors to Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA). Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted the IRA for waging a massive information war during the 2016 U.S. election. Since then, the IRA seems to have been subsumed into Russia’s Federal News Agency, but its work continues. In the case of @IamTyraJackson, the IRA’s goal was two-fold: Grow an audience in part through heartwarming, inspiring messages, and use that following to spread messages promoting division, distrust, and doubt.

36 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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That Uplifting Tweet You Just Shared? A Russian Troll Sent It (Original Post) G_j Nov 2019 OP
Geeze... Hugin Nov 2019 #1
Excellent article! FM123 Nov 2019 #2
AND homegirl Nov 2019 #12
K&R. n/t rzemanfl Nov 2019 #3
What is the Dem's plan to deal with this? Johnny2X2X Nov 2019 #4
Not so. Several have come out in quite strong terms. Here's PatrickforO Nov 2019 #22
Here's what I want to see Johnny2X2X Nov 2019 #23
perhaps this is where andrew yang could be of assistance n/t orleans Nov 2019 #32
If Bloomfield really wanted to help he would take 30 million and dedicate it to ruining Maraya1969 Nov 2019 #27
Instead, he's buying 100's of climate change related search terms on Google... Crash2Parties Nov 2019 #30
Kicked and bookmarked! smirkymonkey Nov 2019 #5
K&R. Important. JudyM Nov 2019 #6
From the article Mike 03 Nov 2019 #7
K&R 2naSalit Nov 2019 #8
These people are really good at what they do PatSeg Nov 2019 #9
Their command of the English language is impeccable. CaptYossarian Nov 2019 #15
And their understanding PatSeg Nov 2019 #18
Maybe Zuckerberg is teaching them in St. Petersburg personally. CaptYossarian Nov 2019 #24
I never re-Tweet anything B Stieg Nov 2019 #10
I don't use twitter for a reason..... getagrip_already Nov 2019 #11
I have a Twitter account PatSeg Nov 2019 #19
+1 keithbvadu2 Nov 2019 #13
I don't share "uplifting tweets" from trolls brooklynite Nov 2019 #14
Great minds think alike.. I am going to cross post your op into mine in DU Primaries Peacetrain Nov 2019 #16
That is a great place for it G_j Nov 2019 #25
Not on Twitter, PoindexterOglethorpe Nov 2019 #17
I hate that too and I purposely will not do it. But what do you think about this? Maraya1969 Nov 2019 #28
That's RW shit alright. tRUMP. SammyWinstonJack Nov 2019 #35
And at home ... ancianita Nov 2019 #20
REALLY good article. PatrickforO Nov 2019 #21
k&r n/t lordsummerisle Nov 2019 #26
"Melanie's audience was made up of educated, urban, left-wing Americans" NCLefty Nov 2019 #29
Reflexive control Celerity Nov 2019 #34
And the cutsie stuff. Thankful for Twitter's Block feature OhNo-Really Nov 2019 #31
HorseShit. This happens, but it's not a majority. nt greyl Nov 2019 #33
The USA's is the most open and widely disseminated culture on the planet. Ligyron Nov 2019 #36


(10,059 posts)
2. Excellent article!
Tue Nov 26, 2019, 10:36 AM
Nov 2019

Everyone should read this. While there is much that we already know, there is also lots that we don't...


(19,747 posts)
4. What is the Dem's plan to deal with this?
Tue Nov 26, 2019, 10:40 AM
Nov 2019

We will not win in 2020 without an advanced and well funded plan to counteract this. I have to hear a single Democrat address this.


(19,747 posts)
23. Here's what I want to see
Tue Nov 26, 2019, 03:27 PM
Nov 2019

The Democratic party needs to have a $multi million dollar high tech campaign to combat the micro targeted ads on Facebook and other social media platforms. I've heard nothing about that. And it's not just Russia, the GOP has a team of technical experts directing millions of micro ads that are literally brainwashing voters, and not just Trump voters, but sowing doubt and discord into factions of Democratic voters.

This is how they won in 2016, if we don't have our own equal operation, we do not stand a chance.


(22,756 posts)
27. If Bloomfield really wanted to help he would take 30 million and dedicate it to ruining
Tue Nov 26, 2019, 06:50 PM
Nov 2019

Russian disinformation.

Where are the other Democratic billionaires?


(6,017 posts)
30. Instead, he's buying 100's of climate change related search terms on Google...
Wed Nov 27, 2019, 01:00 AM
Nov 2019

...to direct people to his campaign ads.

Mike 03

(16,616 posts)
7. From the article
Tue Nov 26, 2019, 10:51 AM
Nov 2019
Russian disinformation is not just about President Trump or the 2016 presidential election. Did they work to get Trump elected? Yes, diligently. Our research has shown how Russia strategically employed social media to build support on the right for Trump and lower voter turnout on the left for Clinton. But the IRA was not created to collude with the Trump campaign. They existed well before Trump rode down that escalator and announced his candidacy, and we assume they will exist in some form well after he is gone. Russia’s goals are to further widen existing divisions in the American public and decrease our faith and trust in institutions that help maintain a strong democracy. If we focus only on the past or future, we will not be prepared for the present. It’s not about election 2016 or 2020.


(48,501 posts)
9. These people are really good at what they do
Tue Nov 26, 2019, 12:09 PM
Nov 2019

We should be very concerned and extremely vigilant whenever we are online.


(48,501 posts)
18. And their understanding
Tue Nov 26, 2019, 01:39 PM
Nov 2019

of our society and social media habits. This isn't the result of some two week training course, these are real professionals.


(15,409 posts)
11. I don't use twitter for a reason.....
Tue Nov 26, 2019, 12:48 PM
Nov 2019

I do have an account, but I don't use it. I get why people like it, but I've decided to not it, or facebook.

But these bots are getting very sophisticated. They have begun working in swarms, reporting posters they don't like to effectively silence them in a conversation. That leaves only those that either agree or just listen. Making for a very lopsided conversation.

But sites like du seem to be on the way out (not du, not yet, but other standalone sites have been depleted in favor of fb, twitter, and even whatsapp groups), so my time may be limited.


(48,501 posts)
19. I have a Twitter account
Tue Nov 26, 2019, 01:41 PM
Nov 2019

only so I can occasionally see a post, but I rarely go there. I really don't get the appeal, but I've known people who became addicted to it.


(95,745 posts)
14. I don't share "uplifting tweets" from trolls
Tue Nov 26, 2019, 01:06 PM
Nov 2019

I only respond to or retweet content from people I know....

...unless I'M a Russian troll.....


(23,004 posts)
16. Great minds think alike.. I am going to cross post your op into mine in DU Primaries
Tue Nov 26, 2019, 01:18 PM
Nov 2019

I was trying to explain to someone about how the trolls are pushing ageism on our top 3.. but this is even scarier.. because as I said to one of the posters.. the trolls are so much more sophisticated this time around.. and no where near as obvious.. but they are there in greater numbers


(26,012 posts)
17. Not on Twitter,
Tue Nov 26, 2019, 01:28 PM
Nov 2019

but I see things like that on FB often enough. I don't share them

I especially dislike when someone posts something "heartwarming" and urges everyone to repost. Nope. Not gonna do it at your command. If I actually like something enough to share, I'll make a separate post of my own.


(22,756 posts)
28. I hate that too and I purposely will not do it. But what do you think about this?
Tue Nov 26, 2019, 07:02 PM
Nov 2019

I think this post is manipulative and typical of the bullshit I see from Trump supporters and could possible be from a Russian bot too.

I think it is trying to get people to stop criticizing this president. I actually posted a bunch of links to some of the horrible things this president has done and the person deleted every single one of them. Including when I mentioned that she did not respect President Obama.

But after reading this article the anger that I feel toward this person makes me think that I am being played too! (?????)




(14,648 posts)
21. REALLY good article.
Tue Nov 26, 2019, 02:25 PM
Nov 2019

I'm happy you posted, and I've bookmarked.

I just bought my first book by Malcolm Nance, who has written extensively about this.


(3,678 posts)
29. "Melanie's audience was made up of educated, urban, left-wing Americans"
Tue Nov 26, 2019, 07:04 PM
Nov 2019
In fall 2018, for example, a Russian account we identified called @PoliteMelanie re-crafted an old urban legend, tweeting: “My cousin is studying sociology in university. Last week she and her classmates polled over 1,000 conservative Christians. ‘What would you do if you discovered that your child was a homo sapiens?’ 55% said they would disown them and force them to leave their home.” This tweet, which suggested conservative Christians are not only homophobic but also ignorant, was subtle enough to not feel overtly hateful, but was also aimed directly at multiple cultural stress points, driving a wedge at the point where religiosity and ideology meet. The tweet was also wildly successful, receiving more than 90,000 retweets and nearly 300,000 likes.

This tweet didn’t seek to anger conservative Christians or to provoke Trump supporters. She wasn’t even talking to them. Melanie’s 20,000 followers, painstakingly built, weren’t from #MAGA America (Russia has other accounts targeting them). Rather, Melanie’s audience was made up of educated, urban, left-wing Americans harboring a touch of self-righteousness. She wasn’t selling her audience a candidate or a position — she was selling an emotion. Melanie was selling disgust. The Russians know that, in political warfare, disgust is a more powerful tool than anger. Anger drives people to the polls; disgust drives countries apart.

I think I would have just shaken my head at that. I'm long past disgusted with conservative christians. :p

But what stuck out to me is that it sounds like that's where Russia wants me. :/


(7,700 posts)
36. The USA's is the most open and widely disseminated culture on the planet.
Wed Nov 27, 2019, 11:50 AM
Nov 2019

Our films, music and even TV shows can be seen and heard almost everywhere but North Korea.

It should come as no surprise that foreign actors know us well. Heck, I can't know this for sure but I bet a lot of those working for the IRA in Russia are plotting and saving for the day they can leave their jobs and come here to live with no ill intent and hopes of becoming a citizen someday.

You can usually tell when a person loves their work whether here, Russia, China or wherever and I'll bet it shows in a lot of their "troll's" efforts that have actually been identified.

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