But there is little reliable evidence.
In the September campaign to boycott Nike in the United States, twitter accounts related to Russia participated, Wired reported referring to a study by the American analytical company Graphika. The sports brand was criticized for advertising with the footballer Colin Kapernik, who, as a sign against police violence, stopped standing during the anthem.
Graphika is known for researching political online campaigns, which it conducts using machine learning algorithms. She counted 47 hashtags on the boycott of Nike from the moment the first publications in the media appeared about advertising with Kapernik. The most popular was #nikeboycott , which was used more than 10 thousand times.
According to analysts, the day after the appearance of advertising, on September 3, the number of reports about the boycott has risen sharply. A few hours after its release under the hashtags against Nike left messages with 7-8 thousand accounts. After 12-18 hours more than 80 thousand different profiles began to participate in the boycott. Analysts focused on those who used these hashtags more than once.
The campaign has spread for the most part thanks to accounts that support Donald Trump, Graphika concluded. So, 66.1% of the tweets on the #nikeboycott hashtagand 58% on the #boycottnike hashtag have been left from the profiles of the supporters of the US president.
Director of Graphika John Kelly says that the boycott “definitely” involved Twitter-related accounts with Russia and managed the situation “from the very beginning.” Analysts clarified that the “Russian” profiles did not start a campaign against Nike, but they watched to increase its coverage in the social network.
Kelly called these accounts “closely related” with the Internet Investigation Agency, which is called the center of the “troll factory”. In the agency itself it is denied.
How do we understand the work of Russians not only in the United States, but also in Europe, and everywhere else – they add these marionette assets to the natural political landscape of the country they want to influence.
Analysts did not provide specific examples of accounts that may be associated with Russia, or their messages. The material Wired does not indicate what exactly is the connection between these profiles and the “troll factory”.
Quarterback of the San Francisco team in American football Colin Kapernik gained fame in 2016 when he began to oppose the fact that the police often use weapons against African Americans. He was the first to kneel during the performance of the US anthem at games instead of getting up. Some fans considered this a disrespect for the traditions. Trump criticized Kapernik, but the example of the quarterback followed by players from other teams.
At the end of 2016, Kapernik left San Francisco in connection with the expiration of the contract and did not appear anywhere else. Later, he signed a sponsorship contract with Nike. Protests caused his advertising with slogans “Believe in something. Even if this means you have to sacrifice everything “and” Do not think that you are doing something crazy. Think about whether it’s crazy enough. ” After the release of Nike’s Twitter advertisements, there were calls for a boycott, and on YouTube they began to publish videos that burned the brand’s sneakers.
Shares of Nike after the release of advertising fell by 3.2%, but by mid-September rose by 7%. Sales of Nike products in the US for 10 days from the beginning of the campaign have grown by more than 60%. On September 26, The New York Times reported that Nike had almost decided to cancel the campaign with Kapernik because of the risk of losing the contract with the National Football League, but changed her mind.