Russian agents last year using troll accounts pushed the far-right conspiracy theory known as “QAnon,” attempting to create additional divisions in the society.
According to an analysis by Buzzfeed News, CovfefenationUS, one of the troll accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA), posted about “QAnon” more than 800 times in 2017 before going dark.
The Internet-based conspiracy theory has existed for years; however, it received momentum in recent weeks as President Donald Trump’s supporters at recent campaign rallies have been seen holding signs and wearing shirts promoting “Q,” the anonymous figure at the center of “QAnon.”
The researchers who helped discover 3 million tweets linked to the IRA told Buzzfeed the operation was intended to promote any extreme or divisive messages, including the “QAnon” theory that alleges Trump is at the center of a massive conspiracy to take down “deep-state” actors.
“At the deepest level, the goal is to make our political differences and debates seem more extreme and insoluble than they really are,” Professor Patrick Warren of Clemson University told BuzzFeed. “If they could make this about QAnon against Black Lives Matter, then they win.”
The IRA was a Russian operation that coordinated more than 400 people in a campaign to spread misinformation among the U.S. electorate starting in 2016. Trolls associated with the IRA pushed a multitude of divisive conspiracy theories and ideologies, with a majority posing as either Black Lives Matter activists or Trump supporters.
“Conspiracies, they go hand-in-hand with extremism,” Warren said.
Twitter is currently working with Congress and intelligence officials to identify all of its accounts associated with the IRA.