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Political trolls adapt, create material to deceive and confuse the public

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Political trolls adapt, create material to deceive and confuse the public

Collage: Examples of memes shared online by Russian government-sponsored trolls. Zannettou et al., 2019., CC BY-ND. Article by Gianluca Stringhini and Savvas Zannettou.

Russian-sponsored Twitter trolls, who so aggressively exploited social media to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, didn’t stop when Donald Trump was elected president.

Even after the election, they remained active and adapted their methods, including using images – among them, easy-to-digest meme images such as Hillary Clinton appearing to run away from police – to spread their views. As part of our study to understand how these trolls operate, we analyzed 1.8 million images posted on Twitter by 3,600 accounts identified by Twitter itself as being part of Russian government-sponsored disinformation campaigns, from before the 2016 election through 2018, when those accounts were shut down by Twitter. […]

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