2. U.S. Operations Through IRA-Controlled Social Media Accounts
Dozens of IRA employees were responsible for operating accounts and personas on different U.S. social media platforms. The IRA referred to employees assigned to operate the social media accounts as “specialists.”42 Starting as early as 2014, the IRA’s U.S. operations included social media specialists focusing on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.43 The IRA later added specialists who operated on Tumblr and Instagram accounts.44
45 See, e.g. , Facebook ID 100011390466802 (Alex Anderson); Facebook ID 100009626173204 (Andrea Hansen); Facebook ID 100009728618427 (Gary Williams); Facebook ID 100013640043337 (Lakisha Richardson).
Initially, the IRA created social media accounts that pretended to be the personal accounts of U.S. persons.45 By early 2015, the IRA began to create larger social media groups or public social media pages that claimed (falsely) to be affiliated with U.S. political and grassroots organizations. In certain cases, the IRA created accounts that mimicked real U.S. organizations. For example, one IRA-controlled Twitter account, @TEN_ GOP, purported to be connected to the Tennessee Republican Party.46 More commonly, the IRA created accounts in the names of fictitious U.S. organizations and grassroots groups and used these accounts to pose as anti-immigration groups, Tea Party activists, Black Lives Matter protesters, and other U.S. social and political activists.
46 The account claimed to be the “Unofficial Twitter of Tennessee Republicans” and made posts that appeared to be endorsements of the state political party. See, e.g. , @TEN_GOP, 4/3/16 Tweet (“Tennessee GOP backs @realDonaldTmmp pe1iod #makeAmericagreatagain #tngop #tennessee #gop”).
The IRA closely monitored the activity of its social media accounts. Harm to Ongoing Matter