ASD’s Social Media Analyst and Communications Officer Bret Schafer spoke with Denise Clifton of Mother Jones about lessons learned from a year of monitoring Russian influence operations on social media.
Every day, the roughly 600 Kremlin-linked accounts tracked in real time on the Hamilton 68 dashboard dive into the hot Twitter topics of the moment. They have fanned rancor over the NFL’s #TakeAKnee protests, and urged Americans to #VoteRed in the midterms. In the past year, the accounts have covered a wide array of subjects—often appearing all-in for the politics of President Donald Trump. Behind the cacophony of about 5 million tweets lies a consistent, relentless propaganda effort, according to analysts who run the dashboard for the nonpartisan Alliance for Securing Democracy, based in Washington, D.C.
“This isn’t about boosting one candidate and demonizing others,” says Bret Schafer, an analyst on the project since 2017. “This is much broader, and that’s the real threat—this steady drip of partisanship that further polarizes us.”