Russian Federation used internet 'to divide America with election of Trump'


Two new reports compiled for a US Senate committee investigating Russian meddling in 2016 say Russians had used an entire range of social media platforms - and not just Facebook, Twitter and Twitter - and targeted African Americans to help President Donald Trump win the White House.

Both the these reports were commissioned by the senate intelligence committee.

The Oxford-Graphika report said it is clear the response by social media companies has been lacking.

"What they tried to do is divide USA public opinion by the existing divisions that were there", Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher said, reporting from Washington, DC.

Senator Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said the reports' findings show "how aggressively Russian Federation sought to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology". "Most troublingly, it shows that these activities have not stopped", he said. They urge social media companies to share data with the public far more broadly than they have so far.

Russian influence operatives not only sought to turn up the volume on political controversies online. The New Knowledge analysis also said Russians surprisingly started to use Instagram more heavily after Trump was elected, and that the most popular posts "praised African-American culture and achievement".

The reports confirm the USA spy agencies' overarching conclusions that Russia's efforts ahead of the 2016 election aimed to sow discord, hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.

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It says the troll farm had a three-pronged approach on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to suppress voters: malicious misdirection, such as "text-to-vote scams"; candidate support redirection, such as voting for a third party; and turnout depression, such as, "stay at home on Election Day, your vote doesn't matter".

Facebook posts linked to the IRA "reveal a nuanced and deep knowledge of American culture, media, and influencers in each community the IRA targeted".

The Russian operatives unloaded on Mueller through fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter and beyond, falsely claiming that the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director was corrupt and that the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election were crackpot conspiracies.

The study says that there were 187 million engagements with users on Instagram, while there were 77 million on Facebook. "Our assessment is that Instagram is likely to be a key battleground on an ongoing basis".

President Donald Trump says he does not believe Russian Federation is still targeting the United States, contradicting USA intelligence assessments that Moscow was continuing its attempts to meddle in American elections. Some of these accounts have a presence on smaller platforms as the major companies have tried to clean up after the Russian activity was discovered. The New Knowledge report details sophisticated attempts to infiltrate internet games, browser extensions and music apps.

Russian-backed social media posts expertly whipped up outrage in the United States every time a... But it was not known yet if it had endorsed them.

Mother Jones reported that Russians seeking to influence American politics made 2,611 posts on Instagram in 2016 but 5,956 posts in 2017. Several months later, Mueller's indictment laid out a vast, organised Russian effort to sway political opinion.