The Daily Beast offers a fascinating look at one of the creations of the Russian troll farm that sought to influence the US presidential election: a fake blogger whose online persona was painstakingly crafted starting in 2014. "Jenna Abrams" had a Twitter account, a Medium page, a GoFundMe page, her own website, and her own Gmail address. Years before the election, she was gaining notoriety online with viral tweets about things like Kim Kardashian and women who don't shave their armpits Then, having built up a base of followers, her tweets and posts turned political. Among her topics: defending the Confederate flag, insisting the Civil War wasn't about slavery, arguing for a return to segregation in the US, bemoaning "PC" culture, and slamming Black Lives Matter and Hillary Clinton. Her thoughts on those topics only increased her viral fame.
Journalists, historians, and celebrities argued with her on Twitter, where she had almost 70,000 followers. The Daily Beast found her tweets quoted in articles from at least 32 publications, including the BBC and the Washington Post. Among those taken in by her: a former US ambassador to Russia, who is an expert on Russian propaganda; the host of the Center for Investigative Reporting's Reveal podcast (who has addressed the Daily Beast's article in a series of tweets); a historian whose response to Abrams got more than 41,000 retweets; Michael Flynn Jr., who once retweeted her; and even another notorious Twitter troll, @Ironghazi, who tells the Daily Beast he was completely fooled by Abrams and believed she was a real person: "The key to being a good troll is being just stupid enough to be believable, keeping in mind that the ultimate goal is making people mad online." Full piece here. (Read more Russia stories.)