With the 2020 U.S. presidential election coming, a study found that there is a coordinated troll campaign that involves Instagram to damage President Trump.
The study was created by an Italian analytics company called Ghost Data. They managed to uncover almost 52,000 accounts that had content that was negative to President Trump, almost 350 accounts whose sole purpose was to be negative towards Trump, and 19 of them were actually flagged for suspicious activity.
According to Andrea Stroppa, the head of research at Ghost Data, “It shows how the accounts are becoming more capable of generating engagement in recent months. There are many references to Russia and Putin. These accounts try to show President Trump as a Russian puppet.”
Most of these accounts have tags saying “hatetrump” and “ihatetrump.” This type of trolling operation right now is smaller than the Russians involvement with the 2016 election but could get larger with time.
Stoppa believes that “someone out there is experimenting” and “testing the waters” right now.
Many of the shared Instagram posts are graphic, but Ghost Data has been able to share almost 900 of them with Fox News after they were removed by Instagram.
The study shows that several accounts have been taken down by Instagram because of their policies that include stealing pictures, creating fake accounts and working in conjunction with other accounts.
One example is a Facebook paged titled “DumpChump” that had registered as a political organization and even bought advertising.
According to the research, “Even if it is impossible to differentiate between clickbait strategies and sincere political outrage, our data shows that a certain number of accounts are directly linked to each other and even operate in a coordinated fashion to spread these anti-Trump memes.”
“Accounts used to manipulate or mislead the public are not allowed on Instagram, and we will take action if we find additional violations.” An Instagram spokesperson stated.