Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence efforts are providing a large boost to the "ReleaseTheMemo" hashtag on Twitter that is trending after Republican lawmakers began calling for the public release of a memo they say contains revelations about U.S. government surveillance abuses.
Twitter trends associated with more than 500 Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence efforts on the Internet show a sizeable spike within the last 48 hours, far exceeding any other topic, according to the Hamilton 68 Dashboard, which was put together by an effort within the German Marshall Fund of the United States think tank.
Some of the Twitter accounts tracked by dashboard behave like automated "bots," and usual themes perpetuated by these accounts are attacks on the U.S., conspiracy theories, and disinformation.
"Accounts were selected for their clear connection to Russian influence, but not all of the accounts are directly controlled by Russia," wrote J.M. Berger, a nonresident fellow at the bipartisan Alliance for Securing Democracy, which is housed within GMF. "The method is focused on understanding the behavior of the aggregate network rather than the behavior of individual users."
Russian bots became a major issue during and after the 2016 election for their role in peddling false information and social media companies have since worked to stem the flow of "fake news."
The House Intelligence Committee on Thursday approved, by a party-line vote, to make the four-page memo available to all members of the lower chamber. Several Republicans, including top members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, and North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, have commented on the alarming nature of its findings and have rallied for its release.
Lawmakers with relatively small Twitter followings, like Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y. (11.7K followers), have received thousands of "likes" and retweets to their memo-related tweets.
Immediately #ReleaseTheMemo #FISAMemo & ALL relevant material sourced in it. Every American needs to know the truth! We wouldn't be revealing any sources & methods that we shouldn't; only feds' reliance on bad sources & methods.— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) January 19, 2018
Reports have suggested the memo could contain answers to the question of whether the FBI and Justice Department used the infamous "Trump dossier" to abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The dossier, which was published in full by BuzzFeed in January of last year, contains a number of salacious and unverified claims about President Trump's ties to Russia, possibly opening him up to blackmail.
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, called has the memo a "profoundly misleading set of talking points."