Russian trolls duped Donald Trump Jr. with a fake Kid Rock account touting a conspiracy theory about gas prices and a bogus COVID cure

December 14, 2022, 12:12 PM UTC
Kid Rock in concert; Donald Trump Jr., son of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Donald Trump Jr. shared a post by an account impersonating Kid Rock to his Instagram.
Scott Legato—Getty Images; Alex Wong—Getty Images

Russian trolls spreading far-right conspiracy theories online have managed to dupe Donald Trump Jr. into thinking a fake post by Kid Rock was authentic. 

In one of many attempts to meddle in the U.S. election, the Russian trolls created a fake account pretending to be the MAGA musician. A post from the account “KidRockOfficial” peddling a conspiracy theory about Ivermectin, a bogus COVID cure, and oil supplies caught the attention of the former president’s son. 

Donald Trump Jr., who is allegedly friends with Kid Rock in real life, screenshotted the post from Gettr, and then posted it to Instagram with the caption “yup.” 

The post is only a small part of a broader trend in which bad actors are exploiting social media apps such as Gab, Gettr, and Truth Social, the platform created by former President Donald Trump, using “free-for-all” policies to their advantage. 

The trolls have impersonated different American conservatives, cross-posting across the different platforms, and are reported to have spread pro-Russian propaganda, misinformation already popular among far-right groups, as well as conspiracy theories about Ukraine and bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX. 

New report links accounts to Russia

These findings come from a new report by social media tracking firm Graphika and Stanford University’s Internet Observatory, which tracked a set of 35 accounts to the Newsroom for American European Based Citizens (NAEBC), a fake outlet linked to Russian trolls. Between them, the accounts have amassed around 33,000 unique followers across Truth Social, Gab, and Gettr.

Researchers discovered that “KidRockOfficial” was identical to another account on Gab that had been flagged by the FBI in 2020 as being run by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm. It had simply resurfaced with the same handle on another platform.

This isn’t the first time posts on right-wing platforms have been linked back to Russian trolls; however, it is the first time such accounts have been identified on Truth Social. 

“Due to an apparent lack of enforcement, the actors have established a degree of persistence unavailable on most mainstream platforms and are able to conduct their operations with relative ease,” the report read. 

Gab founder Andrew Torba said in a statement that if the platform had been informed of such activity by law enforcement, “we would have investigated and taken action.”

The CEO of Gettr also said in a statement that the company “takes a robust and proactive approach to moderation, and removed all Russia Today accounts earlier this year for violating [its] Terms of Service. Our platform always complies with local law enforcement authorities and has been repeatedly praised for its approach to moderation by third parties such as Bot Sentinel CEO Cristopher Bouzy.” 

Truth Social, Kid Rock, and Donald Trump Jr. did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

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