KNOXVILLE — A University of Southern California Study showed Tennesseans were the second most likely behind Texans to share fake Russian posts on social media.
That's after lawmakers released information detailing how Russian influence campaigns generated fake posts on social media intended to divide Americans. The details were released during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on November 1, 2017.
"It wasn't just the Bernie supporters or Trump supporters they were targeting. Their main goal was to divide the American society," said Dr. Natalie Rice, a University of Tennessee research associate who studies Russian propaganda.
According to Rice, the posts continued far after the 2016 election and targeted all parties and opinions.
"This is not a Republican problem and this is not a Democratic problem. This is an American problem," Rice said.
From her studies, Rice said she learned that the more someone likes and shares on social media, the bigger a target he or she can become.
"Think about how many times a day you like a news story ... and imagine if people have access to that information, how carefully they can target their propaganda toward your personal taste," she said.
If a post feels like it is tugging at emotion or political leanings, Rice said it might be a Russian operative. The only way to tell, she said, is to go back and verify the source of the post before sharing.
"We can fight back. We can start with our own behavior. We can point out when we see something that people are sharing that is not true," she said.
It can be hard to determine if a post was generated by a Russian operative or an American citizen. See for yourself in this quiz.