Russian trolls used Tumblr to sow discord on the left ahead of the 2016 election by posing as Black activists, according to a new report. (Fair Use) Nicolas Raymond/Flickr (CC-BY)

Russian trolls also used Tumblr to sow 2016 election discord

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. needs to be 'better prepared' for meddling in 2018.


Andrew Wyrich


Published Feb 7, 2018   Updated May 22, 2021, 1:47 am CDT

Russian trolls meddling in the 2016 election sowed discord among Democrats on Tumblr by posing as Black activists and pitting supporters of Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) against one another, according to a new report.

The evidence, which was uncovered by a researcher and BuzzFeed News, comes as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Russia was trying to influence the 2018 midterm elections and warned that the United States was not prepared to prevent it.

“I don’t know that I would say we are better prepared, because the Russians will adapt, as well,” Tillerson said. “The point is, if it’s their intention to interfere, they are going to find ways to do that. We can take steps, but this is something that, once they decide they are going to do it, it’s very difficult to preempt it.”

BuzzFeed News reports that the Russian accounts sowing discord on Tumblr used similar usernames to those connected with the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll farm” associated with accounts that spread misinformation on Facebook, Twitter, and Google ahead of the 2016 election.

The news outlet highlighted several accounts that spread various misinformation, often using one another to increase the reach of the content.

The researcher, Jonathan Albright, said he felt Tumblr had a responsibility to “look into this more.”

“Has not one person at this huge company taken a look at the [list of IRA Twitter accounts released to Congress] and said, ‘Maybe we should cross reference user names on Tumblr?” he told BuzzFeed news.

One Tumblr account, 4mysquad, posted content that promoted Sanders and criticized Clinton–including posting a picture of Clinton embracing former Sen. Robert Byrd, who was a leader of the KKK.

You can read more about the Tumblr accounts here.

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*First Published: Feb 7, 2018, 9:58 am CST