A network of more than 5,000 pro-Trump Twitter bots railed against the “Russiagate hoax” shortly after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report last week, according to data gathered by a prominent disinformation researcher and analyzed by NBC News. The network illustrates the ongoing challenge Twitter faces in persistent efforts to manipulate its platform.
These bots did not appear to come from Russia. Instead, the bots had ties to a social media operation that previously pushed messages backing the government of Saudi Arabia and were connected to a person who claimed to be a private social media consultant, according to internet domain and account registration records.
The bots, which were created last November and December, were pulled down by Twitter on Sunday night for breaking the social network’s rules against “manipulation,” the company said.
Almost all of the since-removed accounts, most of which only posted about 30 times each, attacked the press and lamented how the “Russiagate hoax” affected Trump’s presidency. Many of the accounts copied verbatim tweets from other pro-Trump accounts without attributing those tweets to the original poster.