What was once just a question has been proven as the Senate concluded in a new report that during the 2016 election, Donald Trump was supported by Russia on every major social network, continuing well after he was elected president of the US.
The Washington Post was able to obtain a draft of the report in which millions of posts have been analyzed by the Senate Intelligence Committee on platforms such as GoogleGOOGL, +0.36%, GOOG, +0.33%, Twitter,TWTR, +0.15%, and FacebookFB, +0.38%.
The report is supposed to be made public later this week, providing the most extensive analysis of the disinformation campaign led by the Russians which clearly seeking to benefit not just the Republican Party, but Trump in specific. The Senate found evidence of their use of every social media platform for delivering videos, images, and words tailored to the interests of the voters in order to help elect Trump president and working to keep supporting him after gaining office.
The Post also reported that the data provided by tech companies was several years of posts continuing through until the middle of 2017. The report is the first of its kind to study these posts to be given to the Committee which is led by chairman Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, and Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia.
A second report was also released independently, the results of which are the findings of the election itself, but that lawmakers stated the report didn’t represent the views of its members or the panel.
However, the first report offers details about how American voters were being targeted by the Russian disinformation campaign through thousands of accounts over the course of years. Messages evolved over time, peaking during key events, such as presidentialdebates and party conventions. This information, which is part of the first report, was disclosed by network analysis companyGraphika and the Computational Propaganda Project from Oxford University.
In fact, US officials have charged Russians working at the Internet Research Agency with criminal offenses regarding the interference in the 2016presidential campaign.
According to the report, Trump seems to be mentioned most often while targeting right-wing and conservative voters with the messages encouraging these groups to support Trump’s campaign. Furthermore, the main groups which could work to challenge his campaign were supplied messages to specifically distract and confuse them and eventually discouraging them from voting at all.
This was accomplished by using gun control and immigration issues to first motivate conservatives and then by discouraging traditional Democratic voters, African-Americans, from voting by spreading lies about how to vote and sabotaging their faith in the electoral process. In addition to the social platforms mentioned above, the report found that Russia also used Verizon Communication’sVZ, +0.34%Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram as well.
In addition, the report warned that social networking has moved away from its original purpose of community and sharing the US as well as other parts of the world and towards being used a computational tool for manipulating social control used by clever political consultants and available to politicians in dictatorships and democracies alike.