Russian internet trolls not only used social media accounts to promote President Donald Trump’s election bid, they also operated accounts supporting the candidacies of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued an indictment for 13 Russian nationals affiliated with three Russian companies suspected of interfering in the 2016 election. The goal of their campaign was to sow discord in the U.S. political process.
The indicted Russians operated both pro- and anti-Trump social media accounts, and accounts were also used to support Democratic presidential candidate Sanders and Green Party candidate Stein.
Russians named in the indictment also set up a “Blacktivists” Instagram account that promoted the message: “Choose Peace and Vote for Jill Stein. Trust me, it’s not a wasted vote.” They also used the Instagram account “Woke Blacks” to encourage people not to vote.
“A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment on Feb. 16, 2018, against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities accused of violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes,” special counsel spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement.
“The indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft,” Carr said.
Mueller’s indictment, however, does not allege any of the Russian online activities in any way altered the outcome of the 2016 election.