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Russia 'mobilised thousand-strong troll army' during US elections

Russia has been linked to further allegations of hacking [AFP]

Date of publication: 1 April, 2017

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Further allegations of Russian interference in the US elections have been made, with a US politician saying he had reason to believe Moscow set-up an 'electronic army' to troll Clinton.
Russian meddling in last year's US presidential elections was bolstered by an "army" of one thousand plus "internet trolls" whose aim was to damage Hillary Clinton's reputation and swing voters behind Donald Trump, a leading Democrat has alleged.

Over a thousand IT specialists might have been involved, and were allegedly based at a facility in Russia, he said.

Sources said they were paid to spread fake news to undermine Clinton's campaign, according to Senator Mark Warner and Republican Senator Richard Burr, who is heading an investigation into Moscow's alleged interference.

Warner said he was also told that a "troll army" posted thousands of negative comments against the Democrat's presidential-hopeful on news sites, which could have contributed to making Trump president, The Independent reported.

"We know about the hacking, and selective leaks, but what really concerns me as a former tech guy is at least some reports - and we've got to get to the bottom of this -[is] that there were upwards of a thousand internet trolls working out of a facility in Russia," he said.

"[They were] in effect taking over a series of computers which are then called botnets, that can then generate news down to specific areas." 

He said that reports suggest that key states which unexpectedly swung behind Trump - such as Wisconsin and Michigan - could have been targets of Moscow's electronic army.

These tech experts could have also been responsible for spreading fake news about "Clinton [being] sick" or "Clinton is taking money from whoever", the Democrat said.

"An outside foreign adversary effectively sought to hijack the most critical democratic process, the election of a president, and in that process, decided to favour one candidate over another," Warner said, according to The Independent.

Some Democrats have claimed that Russia worked with the Republicans to bolster Trump's campaign by using agents to target Hillary Clinton.

She was subject to numerous personal attacks during the campaign, targeted with fake news stories, and allegedly had her emails hacked, which have all been considered factors in why Clinton lost the election.

Donald Trump won a surprise victory in the 2016 US presidential election, but the Republican has already been dogged by allegations that he or his aides might have colluded with Moscow.

Meanwhile, a number of Russian intelligence officers have been found dead since the allegations of hacking came about.

Former FBI agent Clint Watts has told investigators they had to "follow the dead bodies" to find out who was behind interference in the US elections.
    

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