Jenna Abrams, a Twitter user who had nearly 70,000 followers at one point and was featured in articles by news outlets as diverse as USA Today, The Washington Post, Mashable, France24 and The Times of India, has been found to be fake.
Investigators from the US House of Congress and social media companies have shown that the account was run by employees of the Internet Research Agency – the Russian government funded ‘troll farm’ based in St Petersburg. The account tweeted on topics as wide ranging as Kim Kardashian to the old Confederate flag.
The fact that the account was engaged with by so many celebrities and mentioned by so many reputable news outlets shows how effective the Internet Research Agency was in shaping an engaging dialogue in the US, during the lead up to the 2016 Presidential election.
The reason the account was so successful in interacting with the American public was that it looked like it was created by a real American citizen, complete with a personal website, Gmail account and a GoFundMe page.
What implications could this have in the future for the propaganda ‘war’ being fought between Russia and the US? Beyond this, what are the implications of impersonating social commentary for thought leadership and public opinion? As well as politics, how will such 'leaders' influence culture, religion, and major global industries, from sport to fashion?
Major opinion influencer on Twitter does not exist https://t.co/nMxxp08mxL via #signalofchange