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Russian Trolls Are Flooding Social Media With Messages Meant To Increase Tensions In U.S.

Posted on Friday, 23rd February 2018 @ 02:23 PM by Text Size A | A | A

NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly speaks with Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., about how Russian bots are still flooding social media, including fomenting American tension over the Florida school shootings, and what he thinks should be done about it.

Transcript:
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The aftermath of a school shooting in Florida, NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem and the 2016 presidential election – these have all been targets of Russian internet trolls. Just hours after that Florida shooting last week, Russian bots got busy on social media posting pro-gun-rights messages, also posting pro-gun-control messages. It’s the latest example of a phenomenon documented in special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment released on Friday of Russian trolls and bots working to deepen divisions in U.S. society. Oklahoma Republican Senator James Lankford has been talking about this since the NFL national anthem controversy last fall.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JAMES LANKFORD: They were taking both sides of the argument this past weekend and pushing them out from their troll farms as much as they could to try to just raise the noise level in America and to make a big issue seem like an even bigger issue as they’re trying to push divisiveness in the country.

KELLY: Senator Lankford predicted then that we would continue to see this happening, and we have. Senator Lankford sits on the intelligence committee, and he joins me now. Welcome to the program.

LANKFORD: Glad to be able to be with you today.

KELLY: I want to follow on something we just heard you say there in that tape from last fall. You said that the troll farms – Russian troll farms are working to try to just raise the noise level. Is that the goal? Do we know what Russia wants?

LANKFORD: What Russia seems to want is divisiveness everywhere else, and they try to get a competitive advantage by destabilizing every country around them. They’ve done it for years, and they’ve finally come here.

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