We're now getting more information on just what the Russians were doing during the 2016 election, and there is no doubt that they were manipulating social media in order to help Donald Trump, to attack Hillary Clinton, to demoralize Democratic voters, and to misinform the electorate, and that Russian assistance to Trump continued after the 2016 elections.
A report prepared for the Senate that provides the most sweeping analysis yet of Russia’s disinformation campaign around the 2016 election found the operation used every major social media platform to deliver words, images and videos tailored to voters’ interests to help elect President Trump -- and worked even harder to support him while in office.
The report, a draft of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is the first to study the millions of posts provided by major technology firms to the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), its chairman, and Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), its ranking Democrat. The bipartisan panel hasn’t said if it endorses the findings. It plans to release it publicly along with another study later this week.
The research -- by Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika, a network analysis firm -- offers new details on how Russians working at the Internet Research Agency, which U.S. officials have charged with criminal offenses for meddling in the 2016 campaign, sliced Americans into key interest groups for the purpose of targeting messages. These efforts shifted over time, peaking at key political moments, such as presidential debates or party conventions, the report found.
The data sets used by the researchers were provided by Facebook, Twitter and Google and covered several years up to mid-2017, when the social media companies cracked down on the known Russian accounts. The report, which also analyzed data separately provided to House intelligence committee members, contains no information on more recent political moments, such as November’s midterm election.
“What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party--and specifically Donald Trump,” the report says. “Trump is mentioned most in campaigns targeting conservatives and right-wing voters, where the messaging encouraged these groups to support his campaign. The main groups that could challenge Trump were then provided messaging that sought to confuse, distract and ultimately discourage members from voting.”
There's every reason to believe given the revelations of the last two years that Trump not only knew about this, but was actively seeking this assistance, and that it made a concrete difference in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, and on top of all this it helped him win the election.
When Mueller comes in his his proof that this happened, it's going to be a gut check for this country. I don't know if we'll pass it.