Research by British social policy think tank Demos found that the vast majority of tweets from these operations, which were sent in the six months prior to the Brexit vote, circled in on Islam rather than the U.K.'s withdrawal from the European Union.
Accounts engaged in the influence operations were affiliated with Russia's Internet Research Agency (IRA), a group the United States Intelligence Community has labeled a troll farm.
The Demos paper found that tweets addressing Islam between March and June 2017 had been retweeted 25 times more often than other posts. Two terror attacks occurred during that period, one on March 22, 2017, and one on June 3, 2017.
The study was formed by an analysis of about 9 million tweets from 3,841 blocked accounts associated with Russia's IRA which were released by Twitter, Demos said in its research paper.
It found that, of those 9 million Twitter posts, 3.1 million had been typed out in English — making up 34 percent — and that 83,000 of those 3.1 million — 2.7 percent — were linked to the U.K., and were shared 222,000 times. "It is plausible we are therefore seeing how the U.K. was caught up in Russian operations against the U.S.," the paper said.
It also found that, in the early stage of the operations, the Russia-linked accounts would tweet topics like fitness and exercise "as an attempt to camouflage fake accounts and begin to infiltrate the wider conversation."