As if things couldn’t get any worse for Trump as far as Russia is concerned, a pair of damning new reports was just released from the Senate today, which discovered that Russia was heavily engaged in an aggressive social media campaign to help Trump win the 2016 election, and this support continued on after he took office.
One report was compiled by Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and social media analysis firm Graphika. The second report was written by cybersecurity firm New Knowledge. These reports found that there was a “sweeping and sustained social influence operation” to help Trump, which also included hacking online voting systems and stealing emails from the Clinton campaign, “which led to a controlled leak via WikiLeaks.”
The Oxford report notes that Russia’s Internet Research Agency “launched an extended attack on the United States by using computational propaganda.” This impacted over 30 million people, who shared content on social media from 2015 to 2017. While Russia Internet Research Agency was previously only focused on Twitter, it “quickly evolved into a multi-platform strategy involving Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube amongst other platforms” and used memes, videos, pictures, and text to boost Trump’s image.
The Russia Internet Research Agency was found to be operating a “troll farm,” employing hundreds of English speakers who had “a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including … supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton.”
The trolling efforts had two main goals — and of course, they’re racist. One concerned voter suppression, in which Russian trolls would influence African-American voters to boycott the election, or present them with misleading information about how to vote. The other targeted Latino voters, influencing them to distrust the government. The Oxford report stated:
Differential messaging to each of these target groups was designed to push and pull them in different ways. What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party – and specifically, Donald Trump.”
The overall aim was get voters “to boycott the election, abstain from voting for Clinton, or to spread cynicism about participating in the election in general.” Conservatives “were actively encouraged to get behind Trump’s campaign.”
And unfortunately, this campaign did not end when Trump won the election. The Russia Internet Research Agency actually increased activity by 238 percent on Instagram, 59 percent on Facebook and 52 percent on Twitter after Trump got into office. However, the agency had to eventually decrease activity after social media companies wouldn’t let the group purchase ads and suspended its accounts.
New Knowledge stated the “scale of their operation was unprecedented” reaching “126 million people on Facebook, at least 20 million users on Instagram, 1.4 million users on Twitter, and uploaded over 1,000 videos to YouTube.”
These reports were seriously the LAST thing Trump needed right now as Robert Mueller gets closer — but they’re just what America has been waiting for. You can read more about the reports here.
Featured image via screen capture