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Saturday, September 21 • 12:15pm - 12:50pm
Touched by the Trolls

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From mid-2015 through the end of 2017, the Russian-government affiliated Internet Research Agency produced nearly 2.1 million English-language tweets from accounts that purported to be operated by U.S. nationals or organiza- tions (”trolls”). About half of the output of the troll accounts were retweets of other accounts, overwhelmingly from outside the network. We analyze the characteristics of outside accounts that were targeted by the trolls, and how those changed over the life of the operation, in order to infer what role contacts with outsiders might have played in the trolls’ propaganda strategy. We in- troduce the the three stage life-cycle for a troll account: introduction, growth, and amplification, and document the characteristics of those stages. Finally we analyze a quasi-experiment of the amplification stage and estimate that in the month leading up to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, the trolls may have have accounted for about 3 million additional tweets from and 4 million additional followers for the 25,000 unique accounts they amplified.


Patrick Warren

Clemson University

Darren Linvill

Clemson University

Saturday September 21, 2019 12:15pm - 12:50pm PDT
Y403 WCL, 4300 Nebraska Ave, Washington DC