Brad Parscale, the former digital director of the Trump campaign, was recently asked about his retweet of @TEN_GOP, a Twitter account that appeared to be the Republican party of Tennessee but turned out to be run by a famed Russian troll factory.
“Yes, I feel bad that it was a — it was not a Tennessee account — that I got fooled that it was a Tennessee GOP account,” Parscale said.
Here’s the message he retweeted: “Thousands of deplorables chanting to the media: ‘Tell The Truth!’ RT if you are also done w/ biased Media!”
Forgive Parscale for not seeing the Russian hand behind the account. Many news outlets and others amplified that account’s messages, sometimes in support of them, or to debunk them, or to cite them as reflective of the views of some Americans.
The last point is one of the most important to reckon with. That account, as well as the many others identified by congressional investigations on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, blended in with the flow of content from Trump supporters. The accounts didn’t set the agenda, but rather amplified and mimicked what was already being shared, stacking more wood atop an existing bonfire of partisanship and social division. And it wasn’t just pro-Trump content.
For example, can you tell which of these Bernie Sanders posts is from a Russian troll page, and which is American?