The @TEN_GOP Twitter account, which posed as the state's official party, stirred up controversy on a nearly weekly basis during the 2016 election cycle and it was easily one of the most popular Republican accounts on the social media network, but it wasn't run by Republicans.
According to Buzzfeed, the account was run by Russia's professional trolls the entire time.
The account, @TEN_GOP, was enormously popular, amassing at least 136,000 followers between its creation in November 2015 and when Twitter shut it down in August, according to a snapshot of the account captured by the Internet Archive just before the account was "permanently suspended."
Some of its tweets were deliberately outrageous, the archive shows, such as one in December 2016 that claimed that unarmed African-American men killed by police officers deserved their fate. It also trafficked in deliberate fake news, claiming just before it was shut down that a photo of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA championship parade was actually a crowd waiting to hear Donald Trump speak.
While this fake account run by the Russians had more than 136,000 followers, the real account for the Tennessee Republican party has only 13,400 followers. That should give you some idea of the size and scope of this scam.
The real state party reportedly complained to Twitter about the fake account several times, but the account wasn't shut down until August of this year when Twitter and Facebook both took action against Russian accounts.
Twitter and Facebook have been notoriously bad about stopping abuse of their networks. They're both taking action now, but it's clear they're doing so only because they fear being regulated. I would compare this to university athletic departments imposing punishment on themselves in the hopes of staving off steeper punishment by the NCAA. Of course, like our Republican-controlled Congress, the NCAA is mostly impotent.