The Lawfare Podcast: Deen Freelon on Why Black Trolls Matter
This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Deen Freelon, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Deen’s work focuses on data science and political expression on social media, and they discussed research he conducted on tweets from the Internet Research Agency troll farm and their attempts to influence U.S. politics, including around the 2016 election. In a recent article, Deen and his coauthors found that IRA tweets from accounts presenting themselves as Black Americans received particularly high engagement from other users on Twitter—which raises interesting questions about the interaction of race and disinformation. They also talked about what the data show on whether the IRA actually succeeded in changing political beliefs and just how many reporters quoted IRA trolls in their news reports without realizing it.