A Guardian investigation has found that the tweets of Russian troll accounts have been cited in over one hundred UK news articles. The tweets were included in stories about US president Donald Trump, Donald Glover and Lena Dunham by the British press.

The investigation used the details of 1,000 accounts listed as Russian trolls by the US Congress in June this year. It is believed the accounts are operated by the Internet Research Agency (IRA) which is state-backed, based in St Petersburg and dedicated to spreading misinformation. The IRA’s job is to make fake accounts online and post comments all over social media to infiltrate the lives of ordinary people. They basically get paid to spread fake news.

It is the Internet Research Agency which attempted to influence the 2016 US election and which deliberately promotes Russia’s domestic and foreign aims in a very subtle and highly strategic way.

Image result for internet research agency

Internet Research Agency

Some of the Twitter accounts that have been used in the British press include @KaniJJackson, who posed as a Black Lives Matter activist, @wokelusia, whose tweets were cited five times in the Guardian, Telegraph and BBC.

Perhaps most shockingly, the Mirror used a photograph tweeted by a disguised IRA account to lead its coverage of a terrorist attack in St Petersburg. The Metro also used the same photograph.

What the findings of the investigation shows is that Russia is using humour and social media as a tool to alter and influence topical discussions in the British media. Their fake accounts are used to make certain viewpoints appear more popular than they may actually be and to generally promote the views and aims of the Kremlin.