“Bernie bros” weren’t the only ones who tweeted furiously about Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential campaign. Russian trolls on Twitter targeted Sanders supporters in an effort to sway them toward candidate Donald Trump, according to researchers at Clemson University.
Pointing out that the tweets occurred at a “higher volume than people thought,” Darren Linvill, a communications professor at Clemson, told the Washington Post, “I think there is no question that Sanders was central to their strategy” and had been “clearly used as a mechanism to decrease voter turnout for Hillary Clinton.”
More than 9,000 Russian tweets, originating from Russian sources, mentioned “Bernie” and drew 59,281 likes and 61,804 retweets.
Many Sanders supporters felt that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had unfairly and prematurely thrown its support behind Clinton even while enthusiasm for the Vermont senator swelled, a sentiment that became more heated after WikiLeaks published emails stolen from the DNC and other Democrat-affiliated sources.
The tweets via Russian-based accounts like “Red Louisiana News” tried to parlay growing discontent into support for Trump, claiming, “Conscious Bernie Sanders supporters already moving towards the best candidate Trump! #Feel the Bern #Vote Trump 2016.”