Russian troll account pushed ‘Q’ theory last year: report

Russian troll account pushed ‘Q’ theory last year: report
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A Russian troll account created to exacerbate divisions in the U.S. last year pushed the far-right conspiracy theory known as "QAnon," according to an analysis by Buzzfeed News.

@CovfefenationUS, one of the troll accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA), posted about "QAnon" more than 800 times in 2017 before going dark, according to Buzzfeed.

Though the Internet-based conspiracy theory has been circulating for years, it has attracted increased attention in recent weeks as President TrumpDonald John TrumpOver 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: study CNN's Anderson Cooper unloads on Trump Jr. for spreading 'idiotic' conspiracy theories about him Cohn: Jamie Dimon would be 'phenomenal' president MORE's supporters at recent campaign rallies have been seen holding signs and wearing shirts promoting "Q," the anonymous figure at the center of "QAnon." 

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The researchers who helped uncover 3 million tweets linked to the IRA told Buzzfeed the operation was intended to promote any extreme or divisive messages, including the "QAnon" theory that alleges Trump is at the center of a massive conspiracy to take down "deep-state" actors.

"At the deepest level, the goal is to make our political differences and debates seem more extreme and insoluble than they really are," professor Patrick Warren of Clemson University told BuzzFeed. "If they could make this about QAnon against Black Lives Matter, then they win."

The IRA was a Russian operation that coordinated more than 400 people in a campaign to spread misinformation among the U.S. electorate starting in 2016. Trolls associated with the IRA pushed a multitude of divisive conspiracy theories and ideologies, with a majority posing as either Black Lives Matter activists or Trump supporters. 

"Conspiracies, they go hand-in-hand with extremism," Warren said.

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE earlier this year charged 13 Russian nationals with conspiring to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. 

Twitter is currently working with Congress and intelligence officials to identify all of its accounts associated with the IRA.