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Report: Russians spent years exploiting trust in local news on social media

Twitter logo in Russia flag
Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm that was one of three entities indicted by Robert Mueller for conspiring to interfere in the 2016 election, created 48 Twitter accounts dating back to 2014 that were designed to mimic local news outlets, according to an investigation by NPR.

Why it matters: The now-suspended accounts, which had names like @ElPasoTopNews and @Seattle_Post, gained the trust of thousands of followers over the course of two years by posting real local news headlines. The potential for these accounts to mobilize at any moment and influence a narrative suggests that the Russian misinformation campaign — which was evidently a years-long effort — had an acute understanding of the authority and respect that local news commands in American society.

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