Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, is the latest victim of Russia’s influence on social media via its “troll farms.” Dorsey retweeted two posts from an account associated with Russian troll farms. The account handle is called @Crystal1Johnson – an account that claims to be a black woman that has since been revealed to be part of the Russian Internet Research Agency, which is alleged to have links to the Kremlin.
In one of the tweets shared by Dorsey, @Crystal1Johnson says: “Rihanna collects her Humanitarian of the Year award from Harvard. She kicked off #WomensHistoryMonth with a bang!”
In the following week, he retweets another tweet from the account; “Nobody is born a racist. This picture is so sweet! Teach your children to judge others by the kind of person they are inside.” Dorsey shared the tweets in March 2016.
Russian Influence on Social Media
Even though the retweets are harmless enough, it showcases how foreign powers have infected social media platforms and helped influence the political landscape. A report by Freedom House has shown that several countries have used paid commentators to manipulate online discussions, with Russia being the forefront of this tactic. The Russian Internet Research Agency employs at least 400 workers, hiring young people as Internet operators. Internet Research Agency also purchased Facebook ads aimed to sympathize with the Black Lives Matter movement to toke incivility and amplify discord.
@Crystal1Johnson’s Twitter account was permanently banned in August 2017, with Dorsey deleting the retweets.