A new study has identified 6,500 Russian Twitter accounts that actively promoted U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in the weeks before Britain’s June 2017 general election.
The joint investigation by The Sunday Times and Swansea University revealed that many of the Russian accounts were in fact bots using 15-character alphanumeric usernames accompanied by a false English-sounding woman’s name.
For example, the Twitter user @NR2AtERXvfDy0N was named Gabrielle Wilson and @3udLH4vNxhmDksX appeared as Jessica Ferguson.
The accounts listed their language or location as Russian.
The majority of them, 80 percent, were created in the weeks preceding the vote and most of them were later suspended by Twitter or disappeared.
Academics from Swansea say the 6,500 accounts are just “the tip of the iceberg” in a large-scale Russian campaign to influence British voters.
The study found that nine out of 10 messages posted by the Russian accounts about the Labour Party promoted its election campaign. On the other hand, nine out of 10 tweets about the Conservative Party were hostile.
Matt Hancock, Britain’s digital and culture secretary, described the revelations as “extremely concerning” and said it was “absolutely unacceptable for any nation to attempt to interfere in the democratic elections of another country.”