We have identified a live influence operation targeting US voters ahead of the 2020 Presidential election. The accounts involved are actively supporting the Trump 2020 re-election campaign while leading the online audience towards conspiracy theory and potential civil unrest.
The IRA 2020: Tactical Assessment examined two years of Twitter surrounding accounts previously linked to Russia’s infamous Internet Research Agency by Washington D.C. based behavioural insights company Veriphix.
Since August 2018, twenty-eight of the accounts have posted over 20,000 tweets and generated over 800,000 interactions across a range of narratives. Through the implementation of live monitoring, we have ascertained the influence operation is active in discourse around the Trump campaign, the Republican National Convention, Black Lives Matter protests, COVID19 conspiracies, and the Kenosha shootings.
Founder and director of SOCINT, James Patrick, said: “This is clearly a well-conceived operation, designed and actioned by experienced personnel with a rounded understanding of online behaviours in the target audience and an advanced ability to shape a complete information environment. This is indicative of a state-led enterprise.”
“The content is heavily Trump-centric, derogatory of Vice Presidency candidate Kamala Harris, laden with well-known Obama conspiracy tropes, and consistent in attacks on Joe Biden and the Democrats in general. Some content is dedicated to the “postal vote fraud” narrative being actively pushed by President Trump himself, which appears designed to set the ground for potential disorder in November 2020,” he added.
Our tactical assessment sets out the tactics “troll-farms” are using to corral America’s social media users and sway the ballot box. We observe that this influence operation is likely to cause or exacerbate real-world harms and a state-led intervention, working alongside Twitter, will be required to mitigate the risk posed to American democracy.IRA-2020-Tactical-Assessment-SOCINT-27Aug2020