Russian Troll Accounts Continue To Infiltrate Far-Right Websites

Researchers from social media-research firm Graphika and nonprofit organization Advance Democracy Inc. have recently published a report that provides evidence of an active group of Russian users continuing to troll internet websites that tend to those on the far-right political spectrum. The group, which Graphika has linked to multiple interference attempts in U.S. politics, created at least 20 accounts on and, websites prominently recognized as a safe haven for far-right users and white supremacists. The accounts generated only a few days after the November elections are likely associated with the Information Research Agency (IRA), a widely known Russian group that specializes in disinformation operations that target American communities with divisive rhetoric.

Graphika works exclusively on analyzing the spread of information on the Internet and online spaces. Ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the team worked to expose foreign campaigns on the platforms, Gab, and Parler. According to the Graphika team, this latest offensive is likely the same group that has been previously involved in spreading narratives that amplify disorder and polarization within the U.S. These narratives have ranged from false allegations of voter fraud, racial inequality and police violence, COVID-19, racist attacks on Vice President Harris, and accusing President Joe Biden of being involved in an elite pedophile ring. According to Marc-André Argentino, a researcher at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), the messaging “could indicate an attempt at experimenting with trying to inject specific messaging.” Neither Gab nor moderators have responded to Reuters journalists about the accounts on the platform.

This is not the first instance of Russian actors overtly abusing cyber-space to instill distrust in American institutions. In October, Graphika exposed the fake website Newsroom for American and European Based Citizens (NAEBC), which was a right-wing media outlet created by Russian trolls ahead of the 2020 elections. Experts from Facebook confirmed the website was associated with the IRA, the same Russian government contract group that was indicted for interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. In 2017, Facebook also discovered that the IRA had subjected 126 million of the application’s users to political disinformation, as reported by the Washington Post. Accounts on were traced to suspected accounts Graphika was already tracking on Gab, with identical cartoons and memes being posted within a short time frame and not seen anywhere else on the Internet.

Information warfare is a successful method for propagandizing false materials and reaching a worldwide audience. This 21st-century phenomenon has been capitalized on by Russian groups who seek to manipulate American citizens’ political and civic perspectives. Through producing and releasing partisan content, adversaries of the system are able to shape legitimate political beliefs in the country. This was recognized in the investigation of the 2016 U.S. election, which saw a myriad of Russian trolls posting false propaganda on platforms to undermine citizens’ faith in democratic institutions. Targeted disinformation has proved to be a powerful weapon to exploit users who are reading sensitive political topics that they often believe to be true, despite the lack of evidence confirming or validating the information that is being put forth.

Ultimately, these cyber maneuvers on these platforms are incredibly dangerous to the integrity of democracy because of their ability to fuel polarization and potentially extremism. The issue is not just how to stop malicious foreign actors, but how to properly attribute and condemn them. Part of the problem lies in Section 230 of the U.S. Communications Decency Act, which establishes that social media companies are not liable for the content being posted on their platforms, protecting them from accountability. Amending this law would hold companies legally responsible and provide an incentive to more thoroughly analyze the information being posted and identify the source, which ensures that information (in particular, political-related posts) would be more factually accurate and backed by evidence.

Russia remains the biggest player in planting seeds of disinformation to influence domestic politics from overseas, most notably on far-right websites and discussion boards that publicize partisan content. This has been evident in this most recent report, as well as in the investigations that took place following the 2016 U.S. election. As citizens become more actively engaged and reliant on these applications, they are more vulnerable to viewing these targeted fake posts that may or may not align with their pre-existing beliefs. Unfortunately, as the Internet and cyberspace become more widely accessible, these threats will persevere. U.S. agencies have implemented standards that protect against foreign influence in domestic politics, but groups continue to find their way around the platforms. With a lack of international consensus of what is permitted in cyber-space, adversaries will continue to use this invisible weapon to their advantage. Social media, while a great form of communication and outreach, undoubtedly has a dark side. Companies in the private sector such as Graphika are essential as they work solely to analyze what is being put on the Internet for millions of viewers and readers.

Jillian Mulloy