Russia’s Internet Research Agency operated a vast network of accounts on Instagram that sought to infiltrate American identity groups, harden ideological divides and sow distrust in the American political system.
Much of the group’s activity was concentrated among several dozen large accounts, …[two] of which had more than 200,000 followers. Many of the group’s accounts targeted specific identity groups, including African-Americans, gun-rights supporters and anti-immigration activists.
In total, posts from Instagram accounts linked to the I.R.A. received nearly 185 million likes during the two-year period reviewed by the researchers, and about four million comments, according to the researchers.
…One post, made by an Instagram account called @feminism_tag, accused Ms. Clinton of insulting women who had accused her husband, Bill Clinton, of sexual misconduct. Another post targeted at African-American voters showed a manipulated image of Ms. Clinton with braided hair, and was captioned “when you need the black vote.”
In all, roughly 7 percent of the more than 100,000 Instagram posts included in the data set mentioned Ms. Clinton, while 11 percent mentioned Mr. Trump. There were no instances of pro-Clinton content on Instagram, according to the New Knowledge report.
…Several of the Instagram posts traced to Russia offered merchandise for sale.
…Researchers suggested, selling merchandise …allowed Russians to collect names, addresses and other personal information from users; second, it allowed them to identify strong supporters of a cause, who could then be targeted with advertisements.