As part of a probe into Russian influence on the 2016 election, an FBI-led investigation is seeking more information on social media bots that spammed “millions” of pro-Trump posts from far-right news organizations, according to a report published this week by McClatchy.
The bots sent out stories from controversial conservative sources such as Breitbart and Infowars, as well as the Russia-backed outlet RT. According to McClatchy, many of the stories contained false or misleading information. As part of the effort, which included Facebook and Twitter posts, the bots also shared WikiLeaks links to stolen DNC and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta emails that ended up damaging the Democratic nominee’s campaign.
The investigation is also looking into what role the news sites themselves may have played in the social media campaign, although as McClatchy notes, the bots could well have been pushing the stories without the involvement of the sites themselves.
Earlier this year, the US intelligence community released a report on Russia’s influence on the 2016 election that alluded to several similar tactics, including the use of Russian trolls for spreading propaganda. Earlier this week, FBI director James Comey confirmed that the agency was investigating whether members of the Trump campaign had any coordination with Russian operatives during the election.
According to McClatchy, the investigation into bots is still in its early stages.