Russian trolls used Twitter to stir division over Islam in the UK, study finds

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Russian trolls used Twitter to stir division over Islam in the UK, study finds
Jaap Arriens | NurPhoto | Getty Images A Twitter logo is seen on a computer screen.
  • Demos found tweets addressing Islam during a period of terror attacks between March and June 2017 had been retweeted 25 times more often than other posts.
  • Accounts engaged in the operation were affiliated with Russia’s Internet Research Agency, a group the U.S. Intelligence Community has labeled a troll farm.
  • Social media giants including Twitter and Facebook have been clamping down on such influence operations from the likes of Russia, as well as Iran.

Twitter accounts linked to what has been called a Russian “troll farm” engaged in influence operations to stir division over Islam in the U.K., a new study has found.

Research by British social policy think tank Demos found that the vast majority of tweets from these operations, which were sent in the six months prior to the Brexit vote, circled in on Islam rather than the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Accounts engaged in the influence operations were affiliated with Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA), a group the United States Intelligence Community has labeled a troll farm.

The Demos paper found that tweets addressing Islam between March and June 2017 had been retweeted 25 times more often than other posts. Two terror attacks occurred during that period, one on March 22, 2017, and one on June 3, 2017.

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