Do I sound American?
How message attributes of Internet Research Agency (IRA) disinformation relate to Twitter engagement
Keywords:Disinformation, Twitter, Internet Research Agency, information operation, computational social science
Ongoing research into how states coordinate foreign disinformation campaign has raised concerns over social media’s influence on democracies. One example is the spread of Russian disinformation in the 2016 US presidential election. Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) Twitter accounts have been known to deliver messages with strategic attempts and political goals. We use publicly available IRA Twitter data created during and after the 2016 US election campaign (2016 and 2017) to examine the nature of strategic message features of foreign-sponsored online disinformation and their social media sharing. We use computational approaches to identify unique syntactic features of online disinformation tweets from IRA compared to American Twitter corpora, reflecting their functional and situational differences. More importantly, we examine what message features in IRA tweets across syntax, topic, and sentiment were associated with more sharing (retweets). Implications are discussed.