Russians behind Twitter account targeting TN?

A Twitter account that the Tennessee Republican Party tried to get suspended was created by a Russian “troll” farm that was trying to influence American political views, according to the Russian magazine RBC.

The Tennessee-targeted account was labeled @TEN_GOP; the real Tennessee Republican Party account is @TN_GOP. Twitter suspended it in August, 2017, about a year after the first request by TNGOP.

Excerpt from the Tennessean’s report:

Since the account appeared in late 2015, the Tennessee Republican Party sent three messages to Twitter saying the account was misleading. A picture associated with the account featured the state seal and the location was set in Tennessee.

“The account is in no way affiliated with us and it was misleading,” said Michael Sullivan, executive director of the state party.

… (T)he Russian-linked account frequently tweeted racist posts. At one point, the Confederate battle flag was even added to the account’s official image.

“It was a very disturbing online presence throughout the 2016 election cycle,” Brent Leatherwood, the former state party executive director, said Wednesday.

Leatherwood said the racist posts that often appeared on the account exploited divisions in America. Some posts featured anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim messages.

“It’s a shame how quickly people fell into that trap,” Leatherwood said.

… Throughout the year, the account amassed a significantly larger following than the state party’s official Twitter account, eventually getting nearly 150,000 followers. The state party has about 13,000.

From WTVF’s report (which includes some sample tweets):

Twitter archives show that it recirculated a false story that Hillary Clinton had been fired from the Watergate investigative committee in ’75, suggesting she was “still a liar.”

… After the election, it continued to bash Clinton and establishment Republicans like Sen. John McCain, while promoting the agenda of Donald Trump… Among those who repeatedly shared the account’s messages was pro-Trump commentator Ann Coulter, as did some prominent Tennessee Republicans.

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