Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore’s Twitter following is rapidly expanding—in Russia. Over the weekend, Moore gained about 20,000 new followers, nearly doubling his following in just three days.
Late Sunday night, one Twitter user noticed that Moore’s account had quickly begun to grow, and that the majority of the new accounts following him were Russian. He tagged Moore’s opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, in a tweet saying, “Can I get people to RT the heck out of this? Moore is using Russian bots to make himself look more popular!”
Yet another Twitter user, @MishMashB1, investigated: “Have checked about 20 of the Russian accounts now, all seem to have been created in August this year. That’s some heavy duty coincidence.”
Many other users tagged prominent journalists and news outlets like Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper and CNN, hoping to alert the media to the potential bot infestation.
Moore is a controversial figure in Alabama politics, having been suspended from his elected position as chief justice of the state Supreme Court not once, but twice over his refusal to enforce the law in legal disputes wherein he viewed the law as encroaching upon religious freedom.
He also bested incumbent Senator Luther Strange in a runoff primary election last month despite the Republican Party’s favoritism of Strange, whom Donald Trump endorsed and campaigned for prior to the election.
Moore and Jones will compete for the seat in the special election, which takes place on December 12.