(CNN) The Russian trolls are back — and once again trying to poison the political atmosphere in the United States ahead of this year’s elections.
But this time they are better disguised and more targeted, harder to identify and track. And they have found an unlikely home, far from Russia itself.
In 2016, much of the trolling aimed at the US election operated from an office block in St. Petersburg, Russia.
A months-long CNN investigation has discovered that, in this election cycle, at least part of the campaign has been outsourced — to trolls in the West African nations of Ghana and Nigeria.
They have focused almost exclusively on racial issues in the US, promoting black empowerment and often displaying anger towards white Americans.
The goal, according to experts who follow Russian disinformation campaigns, is to inflame divisions among Americans and provoke social unrest.
Facebook says that about 13,200 Facebook accounts followed one or more of the Ghana accounts and around 263,200 people followed one or more of Instagram accounts, about 65% of whom were in the US.
Twitter told CNN that it had removed 71 accounts that had 68,000 followers. “Most were tweeting in English and presented themselves as based in the United States,” it said in a statement. “The accounts — operating out of Ghana and Nigeria and which we can reliably associate with Russia — attempted to sow discord by engaging in conversations about social issues, like race and civil rights.”
Read the entire report, CNN tracks US social media trolls to Ghana, then Russia.