The Russia connectionRussian social-media-interference operations “active and ongoing”: Senate Intel Committee
The Russian influence campaign on social media in the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign sought to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election by deepening divisions among Americans and suppressing turnout among Democratic voters, according to a report produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee. “What is clear is that all of the [Russian social media] messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party — and specifically Donald Trump,” the report says. “Increasingly, we’ve seen how social media platforms intended to foster open dialogues can be used by hostile foreign actors seeking to manipulate and subvert public opinion,” said the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina). “Most troublingly, it shows that these activities have not stopped.”
The Russian influence campaign on social media in the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign sought particularly to deepen divisions in society and suppress turnout among Democratic voters, according to a report produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The report released Monday (17 December) was compiled by the U.S.-based cybersecurity firm New Knowledge with data provided by the Senate panel from major tech companies Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet, the parent company of Google.
The document says a disinformation campaign spearheaded by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a St. Petersburg company that has been described by the U.S. intelligence community as a “troll farm” with ties to the Russian government, was aimed at stoking divisions between voters on controversial issues such as immigration, race, and gun control, and helping Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election.
Along with another report expected to be released by the Senate committee later this week, it is the first comprehensive analysis of the Russian interference on social media to sway U.S. opinion, which the report says continues to this day.
“Active and ongoing interference operations remain on several platforms,” the report says.
One continuing Russian campaign seeks to influence opinion on Syria by promoting Bashar al-Assad, a Russian ally in Syria’s civil war in Syria, according to the authors of the report.
Russia went all-out to secure Trump’s 2016 victory
The most striking revelations in the new report are the details about the enormous breadth of the Russian disinformation campaign which sought to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election.
The Washington Post notes that the report provides further specifics on known attempts by Russia’s Internet Research Agency to boost Trump’s 2016 election campaign and divide U.S. voters with targeted messages on controversial issues.
“What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party — and specifically Donald Trump,” the Post quoted the draft version of the report to say.
“Trump is mentioned most in campaigns targeting conservatives and right-wing voters, where the messaging encouraged these groups to support his campaign,” the report says. “The main groups that could challenge Trump were then provided messaging that sought to confuse, distract, and ultimately discourage members from voting.”