Russian Trolls Fooled Sanders Voters With Anti-Clinton Fake News

Source Article: The Huffington Post

Red Flags: Hyperbolic Claim

References: Carrier Statement, John Mutz interview

There are several mentions of the sources of spam: including 4chan, alt-right, entrepreneurial Macedonian teens, agenda-less trolls, and even paid Clinton supporters. Yet, the article makes no clear connection from the social media spam to Russian actors. The closest attempt to tie this to Russia noted here is an accusation of broken English:

Some level of foreign participation in spreading disinformation about the left was comically apparent. The names of a few suspect Facebook groups reek of poor translation. One group with more than 80,000 members, claiming to be from Burlington, Vermont, is called “Bernie Sanders Lovers” ― the kind of name a non-English speaker might think makes sense, but that sounds wrong to native ears.

Source: Huffington Post

To this date, there has not been any concrete evidence tying the bots and trolls to Russia. As BuzzFeed recently discovered, there’s more reason to believe that the bots were actually created by one guy in Utah.

“Indeed, in a national atmosphere charged by unproven accusations about a massive network of Russian social media influence, the story of how MicroChip helped build the most notorious pro-Trump Twitter network seems almost mundane, less a technologically daunting intelligence operation than a clever patchworking of tools nearly any computer-literate person could manage. It also suggests that some of the current Russian Trumpbot hysteria may be, well, a hysteria.”

Source: BuzzFeed News

Not all of the fake news was anti-Hillary/pro-Trump, much of it was anti-Bernie. The Huffington Post piece notes that the Facebook group administrator stated that much of the spam was anti-Bernie fake news. He believes that this was submitted by members of Correct the Record, a super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton. As The Verge reported:

Correct the Record, a super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton’s bid to become US president, has promised to invest more than $1 million to respond to users criticizing its candidate on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, and other social media services.

The task force says it will attempt to sway the internet’s legion of Sanders supporters to Hillary’s side as the election draws closer. Behind that effort will be people from a variety of backgrounds, including former reporters, PR specialists, designers, bloggers, and other “Hillary super fans.”

Source: The Verge

Aside from Correct the Record being demonstrably not Russian, this is inconsistent with the Huffington Post’s narrative. The onslaught of spam not only came from many sources, but also supported many goals. The spam found in Bernie Sanders-supporting social media groups did not solely target Hillary Clinton; in fact, much of it supported her.

There is no reason to believe that the “tsunami” of spam was specific to Bernie Sanders supporters. The notion that this issue was unique to Bernie Sanders voters is purely speculative and highly unlikely. The torrent of misinformation found on social media is so prevalent that the Oxford Dictionary named “post-truth” 2016’s word of the year.

Source: Oxford Dictionary