Russian Twitter Trolls Encourage Division Over Islam, Study Says

(Bloomberg) -- Dividing U.K. Twitter users over Islam is the primary tactic of Russian trolls, a research group said, based on analysis of 9 million tweets.

Figures released Thursday by the cross-party U.K. Demos think tank showed a St. Petersburg troll factory generated far more tweets about Islam than about Brexit, despite initial public concern over foreign interference in the 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union.

Demos used a Twitter-released data set of 3,841 blocked accounts affiliated to a group called the Internet Research Agency, which a 2017 U.S. cross-government report described as a “troll farm.”

The study also showed how accounts were “camouflaged” in the early years after they were created in 2011, tweeting mainly about fitness and exercise to appear authentic.

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