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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Twitter: Trump Mingles with Extremists, Impostors, and Spies

 In Defying the Oddswe discuss social mediafake news, and Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Mike McIntire, Karen Yournish, and Larry Buchanan at NYT report that Trump retweets suspect Twitter accounts without bothering to check motives or accuracy.
To assess this unprecedented moment, The New York Times examined Mr. Trump’s interactions with Twitter since he took office, reviewing each of his more than 11,000 tweets and the hundreds of accounts he has retweeted, tracking the ways he is exposed to information and replicating what he is likely to see on the platform. The result, including new data analysis and previously unreported details, offers the most comprehensive view yet of a virtual world in which the president spends significant time mingling with extremists, impostors and spies.

Fake accounts tied to intelligence services in China, Iran and Russia had directed thousands of tweets at Mr. Trump, according to a Times analysis of propaganda accounts suspended by Twitter. Iranian operatives tweeted anti-Semitic tropes, saying that Mr. Trump was “being controlled” by global Zionists, and that pulling out of the Iran nuclear treaty would benefit North Korea. Russian accounts tagged the president more than 30,000 times, including in supportive tweets about the Mexican border wall and his hectoring of black football players. Mr. Trump even retweeted a phony Russian account that said, “We love you, Mr. President!”
In fact, Mr. Trump has retweeted at least 145 unverified accounts that have pushed conspiracy or fringe content, including more than two dozen that have since been suspended by Twitter. Tinfoil-hat types and racists celebrate when Mr. Trump shares something they promote. After he tweeted his support for white farmers in South Africa, replies included “DONALD IS KING!” and “No black man can develop land.”
Trolls and foreign intelligence services can get to him indirectly:
 The president gets some of his questionable material on Twitter from the 47 accounts he follows that show up in his feed, a curated timeline of tweets that come mostly from his family, celebrities, Fox News hosts and Republican politicians, some of whom in turn follow Twitter accounts that promote QAnon or express anti-Islam or white nationalist views.