While most mainstream news outlets jumped to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s side to declare her the winner of the first presidential debate, numerous online polls showed a different story with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump crowned the winner. The hashtag #TrumpWon was number one trend on Twitter, which would imply all of Twitter thought Trump won…or so it would seem on the surface.
The #1 trend on Twitter right now is #TrumpWon – thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2016
When one examined where the #TrumpWon hashtag originated, they’d find the majority were coming from St. Petersberg in Russia. Donald Trump says he does not have ties to Russia, and that the Russian government has not been helping his presidential campaign, but the proof is in the pudding. In the past Russian hackers have been found manipulating online polls in favor of Trump, and there is no reason to believe they would stop helping their preferred candidate now.
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) September 27, 2016
An investigation into these Russian propaganda mills by the Guardian showed just how simple, yet effective, of an operation was being run. They reported, “It was humourless and draconian, with fines for being a few minutes late or not reaching the required number of posts each day. Trolls worked in rooms of about 20 people, each controlled by three editors, who would check posts and impose fines if they found the words had been cut and pasted, or were ideologically deviant.”
Not only was the hashtag against Trump created in Russia, but those pushing it out into the world were likely doing so under financial strain, with worries that if their propaganda was not good enough they would be fined out of their small paychecks. What a concept.