Popular far-right pundit actually a Russian propaganda farm
A POPULAR far-right pundit has reportedly been revealed as a Russian propaganda account.
Jenna Abrams gradually grew a large following on the social media platform over a number of years.
The account, which first appeared in 2014, was at first non-political and featured on many mainstream publications - including The Independent and its sister site Indy100 - for her viral tweets on matters such as the life of reality star Kim Kardashian, piano-playing dogs and National Unicorn Day in the US.
Then gradually she began to tweet and blog about politics, advocating for xenophobic and far-right policies and expressing support for Donald Trump.
In September 2016, she wrote a now-deleted Medium post arguing for a return to segregation in the US.
The account, which has now been deleted, gathered up to 70,000 followers and was quoted as a figure on the so-called 'alt-right' blogsphere.
This included in news outlets including Bustle, US News and World Report, USA Today, several local Fox affiliates, BET, Yahoo Sports, Sky News, IJR, Breitbart, The Washington Post, Mashable,the New York Daily News, Quartz, the Dallas News, France24, the Huffington Post, The Daily Caller, The Telegraph, CNN, the BBC, Gizmodo, The Daily Dot, The Observer, Business Insider, The National Post, Refinery29, The Times of India, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail and The New York Times as well as conspiracy site InfoWars and the Moscow-backed Russia Today and Sputnik.
In an article written by The Independent in February about Twitter criticism of White House advisor Kellyanne Conway kneeling on a sofa in the Oval Office without shoes on, the account was quoted as a Trump supporter accusing others of hypocrisy.
But the Abrams account, @jenn_abrams, is now believed to have been created by the Internet Research Agency, a "troll farm" in St Petersburg funded by the Russian government which is believed to have created thousands of troll accounts and dark ads on social media to target US voters during the presidential election, the Daily Beast reported.
Even Abrams' poorly spelt and argued tweet claiming the US Civil War was about money rather than slavery seems to have been calculated to ensure maximum attention in the West.
The account, which has now been suspended, even got the attention of respected Russia experts such as former US ambassador Michael McFaul, who got into a number of Twitter spats with whoever was running it between February 2015 and August 2016.
Congressional investigators who have been tasked with sifting through the thousands of fake accounts and posts believed to have been created by Russian trolls to smear Hillary Clinton, the Democrats and progressive such as Black Lives Matter have confirmed the account was fake.
This is not the first time a political Twitter account in the West has been accused of being a sophisticated Russian fake.
In August, analysts concluded that a pro-Brexit account called "David Jones" and claiming to be from "Southampton/Isle of Wight" was a Russian fake after they noticed it only seemed to post tweets between the hours of 8am and 8pm Moscow time (5am to 5pm in the UK) and of its 137,000 tweets sent over four years, the majority were pro-Russia.
The account expressed support for the 2014 annexation of Crimea and President - a Russian ally - Bashar al-Assad's brutal crackdown on rebels in Syria.