Russian Trolls and How They Manipulate People at Key Elections

Russian Trolls and How They Manipulate People at Key Elections

So this happened. Some (thousands, to be precise) Russians decided that it would be a great idea to infiltrate the privacy of millions of Americans during the events that took place in 2016’s presidential election. As funny as that might sound, it’s actually very scary knowing that your messages have been hacked, well, with the reason to induce fear, via communication implements used by Facebook or Twitter.

Good news? They found out who did it. But wait for it, actors, very skilled actors, had actually used it to meet their own purposes. To manipulate people into electing who they wanted to be elected? It’s actually interesting to look from this point of view. Can inducing fear make someone change its vote?

Statistics show that over the election year, these trolls have increased more when something important happened. For example, on March 22nd, when the attack from Brussel that had 32 people dead, it’s been recorded a number of 1k tweets. If we may talk about the time when Donald Trump declared himself a Republican nominee, tweets get to the number of almost 1.5K. Daily troll tweet became even more obvious when it was rumored that potential ISIS members came as refugees to the U.S. This was also thought to be a way to induce fear through people in order to manipulate them.

Talking about manipulating people, Americans were only using the hashtag (#) to express their political opinions, but then again, Americans can sometimes be so naïve, considering the fact that it actually helped the Russian in their mission of trolling. Some of them used it to gain followers. Others used it to hijack a hashtag, i. e to talk about something other than politics in a political post or topic.

Troll activity became hyped again when the final presidential debate took place. They were talking about different conspiracies, again, probably to make people change their mind. (they mostly said that Trump is going to win anyway).

But one particular hashtag was going to change it all, the #RejectedDebateTopics, which is known to be started from the account named WorldOfHashtags. (It kind of remind me of World of Warcraft, am I the only one?). So they started to play with people’s mind by asking questions like “Trump. Narcissistic or sociopath. He must suffer from something”. From that moment, a bunch of other trolls started to ask question that ended in this #RejectedDebateTopics.

So who’s side I’m on?

Trolls knew what was about to happen. So they divided between them, or, to be certain, between ideological ideas. There were the “right trolls”, which were fans of Trump and enemies of Clinton. There were the “left trolls”, which made their goal in life to destroy Trump, but not necessarily to praise Clinton. Let’s not forget about #blacklivesmatter – loved the black race, but not democracy. But they didn’t really do it for Trump or Clinton, but just to attack the police.

What happened after?

Twitter happened after.  Two days after the election, a portrait of former president Barack Obama appeared along with the message Goodbye Murderer. Even more, the one who did it confessed on Twitter, saying that he and some of his political activists friends showed the banner to the world. The account also used the hashtag to show his loathe towards the former president: ”#Goodbye to murderer @BarackObama #ThanksObama”. The sad part is that other trolls retweeted this message and other people started to retweet it and this concluded in hundred of likes and a lot of hate.

The banner has been removed afterwords. From that moment to this day, the actual person who did it remains unknown.


I am a pop culture and social media expert. Aside from writing about the latest news health, I also enjoy pop culture and Yoga. I have BA in American Cultural Studies and currently enrolled in a Mass-Media MA program. I like to spend my spring breaks volunteering overseas.

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