This CREST policy brief details how independent analysis has identified systematic use of fake social media accounts, linked to Russia, amplifying the public impacts of four terrorist attacks that took place in the UK in 2017.

The level of influence and interference by Russian-linked social media accounts trying to engineer social division in the UK is considerably more extensive than has been reported to date.

The evidence is that at least 47 different accounts were used to influence and interfere with public debate following all four attacks. Of these, eight accounts were especially active, posting at least 475 Twitter messages across the four attacks, which were reposted in excess of 153,000 times.

A significant aspect of these interference campaigns was the use of these accounts as ‘sock puppets’ – where interventions were made on both sides of polarised debates, amplifying their message and ramping up the level of discord and disagreement within the public online debate.