You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Russian Disinformation Campaign Aimed to Aid Trump and Hurt Clinton, Reports Say

WASHINGTON — A pair of reports released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday show a much more widespread Russian disinformation campaign before and after the 2016 presidential election that sought to impersonate mainstream media organizations and at the same time try to discredit them.

As much of the focus has been on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, platforms like Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr, and Pinterest also were targeted by the Internet Research Agency, the Russian-linked firm that led the effort to sow discord and division through social media posts, ads, memes, and videos. As Twitter and Facebook came under increased scrutiny in 2017, the IRA shifted a majority of its activity to Instagram last year, according to a report prepared by New Knowledge.

“The goals of active measures are to undermine citizens’ trust in government, exploit societal fractures, create distrust in the information environment, blur the lines between reality and fiction, undermine trust among communities, and erode confidence in the democratic process,” the report concluded. “This campaign pursued all of those objectives with skill and precision.”

New Knowledge and the authors of another report, prepared by the University of Oxford and Graphika, also faulted the platforms for not providing adequate data to dig deeper in studying Russian influence.

“Twitter neglected to provide URL data, including only t.co shortened links, and Facebook provided no account data,” New Knowledge conclude. In some cases, the platforms “did extra work to remove crucial metadata” used in analysis.

“This hints at the possibility of deciding to provide the bare minimum possible to meet the Committee’s request,” the report said.

Twitter, Facebook, and Google appeared not to have turned over complete sets of related data to the Senate Intelligence Committee, New Knowledge said. “Some of what was turned over was in PDF form; other data sets contained extensive duplicates. Each lacked core components that would have provided a fuller and more actionable picture,” the report said.

Some other highlights:

‘Greatest’ effort focused on African American audiences: Some of the most sophisticated efforts targeted African American communities on Facebook and Instagram, focusing on race, Black Lives Matter, and criminal justice. The Internet Research Agency “created a uniquely expansive, interlinked fraudulent Black media ecosystem consisting of their own sites interwoven with authentic Black media and Black-owned small businesses to a degree not seen with other communities or groups.”

Pro-Trump efforts started early in the primaries: The Internet Research Agency had a “clear bias” for Trump that started early in the 2016 presidential campaign. There were an “extremely small set” of posts supporting Rand Paul, but support for Trump was “consistent” throughout the content created to build audiences on the right. “Some of the pages targeting traditionally Left-leaning audiences, such as United Muslims, very occasionally broached the idea that their members might consider Trump as well,” the report said.

‘Comprehensive’ Anti-Hillary Clinton operations: IRA content created for the left and the right was heavy in anti-Hillary Clinton sentiment. “There was no pro-Clinton content on Facebook or Instagram, aside from a single United Muslims Facebook Event promoting a rally encouraging Muslims to publicly demonstrate in support of Clinton’s candidacy,” according to the report. Even then, the bulk of the content on the page was anti-Clinton.

‘Shape audience perception’: There were significant mentions of Julian Assange, Robert Mueller, and James Comey in an effort to “shape audience perception during a relevant news cycle.” A number of posts expressed support for Assange, including several on Oct. 4, 2016. That is the day before “Roger Stone’s text message history indicated Mr. Stone believed hacked email data would be made public via Wikileaks.”

More Politics

  • Billie Eilish and Debbie Harry

    Billie Eilish, Blondie's Debbie Harry Attack Abortion Ban

    Songwriting took a backseat to politics for the female honorees at Thursday night’s ASCAP Pop Music Awards at the Beverly Hilton. America’s rapidly spreading anti-abortion movement in states such as Alabama, Georgia and, most recently, Missouri — and resulting legal battles that could lead the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade — had veteran [...]

  • The Spectator Magazine Summer Party at

    Trump Pardons Former Media Mogul Conrad Black

    President Donald Trump has issued a full pardon for Conrad Black, a former media mogul who was convicted on counts of wire fraud and obstruction of justice and who also wrote a biography that praised the president last year. According to a lengthy post on Black’s website, Trump called Black and told him personally of [...]

  • Trump CNN

    White House Asks Users to Report Alleged Social Media Censorship

    Doubling down on the idea that conservative views are being censored on social media, the White House launched a web form Wednesday afternoon that asks users to report any actions taken against them on platforms like Facebook and Twitter because of their political views. “Social media platforms should advance freedom of speech,” the White House [...]

  • Facebook Logo

    Facebook Gets One-Strike Policy for Live Streaming, Twitter and Twitch May Be Next

    Facebook will ban users who have violated certain rules from live streaming after just one offense, the company announced this week. The new one-strike policy includes posting content in support of hate groups and terrorist organizations. The policy change comes in response to the Christchurch shooting in New Zealand, which was live-streamed on Facebook by [...]

  • Julian Assange: Sweden Reopens Rape Investigation

    Sweden Reopens Rape Case Against Julian Assange

    Swedish prosecutors announced Monday that they would reopen their rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently serving a 50-week jail sentence in Britain for jumping bail on an arrest warrant stemming from the case. Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecution, told reporters Monday that the investigation would be resumed. “I [...]

  • Pete Buttigieg Show Business Donations

    Stars Show Support for Pete Buttigieg at Gwyneth Paltrow Event

    Pete Buttigieg finished a day of fundraising on Thursday at the home of Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Falchuk with a reception that drew about 100 people including Bradley Whitford, Rob Reiner and Martin Sheen. According to a source knowledgeable about the event, other attendees included interior designer Michael Smith and James Costos, former U.S. ambassador [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content