“It sounds like the Russians, but instead coming from Americans,” Jacob Ratkiewicz, a software engineer at Google, told the newspaper.
Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone told CNN the platform had removed multiple accounts for violating its policies on having and maintaining multiple accounts. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed multiple accounts had been removed for violations of their policies on platform manipulation and spam.
Both platforms said they are continuing to review the accounts The Washington Post said were part of Turning Point Action’s campaign.
Austin Smith, the field director of Turning Point Action, explained to the Post in a statement “like everyone else, Turning Point Action’s plans for nationwide in-person events and activities were completely disrupted by the pandemic.”
“Many positions TPA had planned for in field work were going to be completely cut, but TPA managed to reimagine these roles and working with our marketing partners, transitioned some to a virtual and online activist model,” he said.
Turning Point USA told CNN it has no comment on the Washington Post report.
Concerns over misinformation on social media have been at the forefront of the presidential election as platforms have struggled with how to handle a President who eagerly shares rumors, unverified viral videos and conspiracy theories.
Facebook and Twitter promised earlier this year to crack down on misinformation, but their responses over the summer to deceptively edited political videos and harmful posts about Covid-19 were often lacking — and too slow.
The operation seems to have been shut down before it could get much traction on Facebook or the rest of the internet. That mirrors what happened around the 2018 midterm elections, when — as far as is publicly known — the Russian trolls’ online efforts were halting and small.
The trolls had far more luck gaining followers and engagement in 2016, though it is not known how much of an impact, if any, their work had on the election.
CNN’s DJ Judd and Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.