Russia Linked Twitter Accounts Promoting Devin Nunes Conspiracy Theory

Screengrab/Fox News/YouTube

Russian Twitter bots have picked up and are spreading the #ReleastTheMemo hashtag in a coordinated effort.

Republicans began pushing for the release of a memo last week that alleges wrongdoing on the part of U.S. intelligence agencies. According to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and author of the memo, the Obama administration surveilled the Trump administration during its transition period.

Now it seems that Russian Twitter bots are getting in on the conspiracy surrounding Nunes' memo.

#ReleaseTheMemo is the top-trending hashtag among Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations, according to Hamilton 68, a website launched last year that says it tracks Russian propaganda in near-real time.

The frequency with which the accounts have been promoting the hashtag has spiked by 233,000% over the past 48 hours, according to the site. The accounts' references to the "memo," meanwhile, have increased by 68,000%.

According to Bret Schafer, a communications coordinator at the German Marshall Fund's Alliance for Securing Democracy who tracks the Hamilton 68 accounts, the top hashtag of the day usually gets used somewhere around 400 times in a 48-hour period. But the memo hashtag has blown that out of the water:

"As of right now, #ReleaseTheMemo has been used over 3,000 times (and five other related hashtags are in the top 10)," he said. "In total, they've easily shared more than 4,500 hashtags on the topic in the past two days, and our top URL is Assange's offer to pay for a copy of the memo. That certainly seems to be a sign of a coordinated effort by the bots and trolls."