Personal Author of Technology Policy
Some of Facebook ads linked to a Russian effort to disrupt the American political process and encourage tensions about fragmented social issues. Tony Romm Personal Author of Technology Policy December 16 at 16:29 A report prepared for the senate providing the most comprehensive analysis of Russia's disinformation campaign around the 2016 election found the operation used in all big social media to deliver words, pictures and videos tailored to the voter's interests to help President Trump – and worked even harder to support him while in place. The report, a draft received by The Washington Post, is the first to study millions of posts provided by major technology companies to the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by late Richard Burr (RN.C.), its chairman, and then Mark Warner Va.), Its ranking Democrat. The bipartisan panel has not said if it supports the results. It plans to release it publicly with another study later this week. The research – at Oxford University's Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika, a network analysis company – offers new details about how Russians work at the Internet Research Agency, which US officials have accused of crashing to disturb the 2016 campaign, Americans sliced to key interest groups for targeted messages. These efforts shifted over time and peaked on important political moments, such as presidential debates or party conventions, found the report. The data sets used by researchers were provided by Facebook, Twitter and Google, covering several years until the middle of the year. In 2017, when social media…
A report prepared for the senate providing the most comprehensive analysis of Russia’s disinformation campaign around the 2016 election found the operation used in all big social media to deliver words, pictures and videos tailored to the voter’s interests to help President Trump – and worked even harder to support him while in place.
The report, a draft received by The Washington Post, is the first to study millions of posts provided by major technology companies to the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by late Richard Burr (RN.C.), its chairman, and then Mark Warner Va.), Its ranking Democrat. The bipartisan panel has not said if it supports the results. It plans to release it publicly with another study later this week.
The research – at Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika, a network analysis company – offers new details about how Russians work at the Internet Research Agency, which US officials have accused of crashing to disturb the 2016 campaign, Americans sliced to key interest groups for targeted messages. These efforts shifted over time and peaked on important political moments, such as presidential debates or party conventions, found the report.
The data sets used by researchers were provided by Facebook, Twitter and Google, covering several years until the middle of the year. In 2017, when social media companies broke down on known Russian accounts. The report, which also analyzed data separately to the members of the House Intelligence Committee, contains no information on later political times, such as the November Midnight election.
“It is clear that all messages clearly tried to benefit the Republican Party – and especially Donald Trump, the report says.” Trump is most mentioned in campaigns aimed at conservative and right-wing voters, where the message encouraged these groups to support their campaign. The main groups that could challenge Trump were then given messages that sought to confuse, distract and ultimately discourage members from voting. “
Representatives of Burr and Warner refused to comment.
The report provides the latest evidence that Russian agents sought to help Trump win the White House. Democrats and Republicans on the panel previously studied the United States Obituary Community’s 2017 finding that Moscow aimed at helping Trump, and in July they said investigators had come to the right conclusion. Despite their work, some Republicans on Capitol Hill continue to doubt Russia’s involvement in the recent presidential election.
The Russians targeted special energy to enable conservatives in issues such as gun rights and immigration, at the same time as the political divide of the left-tear African American voters by undermining their belief in elections and disseminating misleading information about voting. Many other groups – Latin Americans, Muslims, Christians, Gay Men and Women, Liberals, Sinners, Veterans – At least got a little attention It is from the Russians who run thousands of social media.
The report also offered some of the first detailed analyzes of YouTube, a subsidiary of Google and Instagram, owned by Facebook, in the Russian campaign, as well as anecdotes about how Russians used other social media platforms – Google+, Tumblr and Pinterest – relatively little review. The Russian effort also used email accounts from Yahoo, Microsoft’s Hotmail service, and Google’s Gmail.
The authors also stressed the companies’ “delayed and uncoordinated answers” in the information campaign and at the same time it was discovered, their failure to share more with investigators. The authors called for the future to provide data in “meaningful and constructive” ways.
For example, Facebook sent the Senate copies of posts from 81 Facebook pages and 76 account information used to purchase ads, but did not share posts from other IRA-powered user accounts, says the report. Twitter has meanwhile made it challenging for external researchers to collect and analyze data on their platform through their public flow, researchers said.
Google provided information in a particularly difficult way for researchers to manage and provide content such as YouTube videos but unrelated data that would have enabled a full analysis. The YouTube information was so difficult for the researchers to study, they wrote that they instead tracked the links to their videos from other sites, hoping to better understand YouTube’s role in the Russian effort.
Facebook and Google did not respond immediately to the request for comments.
In a statement, Twitter stressed that it had made “significant progress” since the 2016 election to cure its digital defense, including the release of a custody of tweets that Russian agents previously sent so that researchers can review them. “Our only focus is on improving the health of the public call on our platform, and protecting the integrity of the election is an important aspect of that mission,” added the company.
The first year, Facebook, Google and Twitter published Twitter that they had identified Russian interference on their websites. Critics have previously said that it took too long for an understanding of the disinformation campaign, and that Russian strategies have probably moved since then. Companies have woken up to the threat, especially Facebook created a war room this fall to combat disturbances around the election – but no-one has revealed disturbances around the middle of the elections last month on the extent of what happened in 2016.
The report expressed concern about the overall threat as social media represent political discourse within nations and among them, warns that companies once considered as tools for liberation in the Arab world and elsewhere are now threatening democracy. Social media has gone from being the natural infrastructure for sharing collective complaints and coordinate civic commitment to being a social control tool, manipulated by political consultants and accessible to politicians in democracies and dictatorships, “the report said.
Researchers also noted that the data contained signs of skumness among the Russians who could have led to previous discovery, including the use of R Iceland’s currency, ruble, to buy advertisements and Russian phone number for contact information. Operators also submitted technical signatures in computerized logs, such as Internet Addresses in St. Petersburg, where IRA was based.
Many of the findings generally track the work of other researchers and testimonies previously provided by companies to legislators investigating the Russian effort. But the more extensive information provided to the researchers gave new insights on many aspects of the Russian campaign.
The report tracks the rise of Russian online influence operations into Russian domestic policy in 2009 and says ambitions have shifted to US policy as early as 2013 on Twitter. Of the tweets that the company has submitted to the Senate, 57 percent are in Russian, 36 percent in English and less in other languages.
Efforts to manipulate Americans grew vigorously in 2014 and annually after working across more platforms and accounts to target greater ranges of US voters through geography, political interests, race, religion, and other factors. The Russians started with Twitter accounts, then YouTube and Instagram added before they brought Facebook into the mix, told the report.
Facebook was particularly effective for targeting conservative and African Americans, the report concluded. More than 99 percent of all involvement – meaning likes, shares and other responses – came from 20 Facebook pages controlled by IRA, including “Being Patriotic”, “Heart of Texas”, “Blacktivist” and “Army of Jesus.”  Together, the 20 most popular pages generated 39 million likes, 31 million shares, 5.4 million reactions and 3.4 million comments. Company officials told Congress that the Russian campaign reached 126 million people on Facebook and 20 million more at Instagram.
The Russians drove 133 accounts on Instagram, a photo sharing subsidiary to Facebook, which focused mainly on race, ethnicity or other forms of personal identity. The most successful Instagram posts addressed African American cultural issues and black pride and were not explicitly political.
The overall intensity of the platform overlay grew year after year – with some increase over six months after the 2016 election day – this growth was particularly pronounced on Instagram, which went from approximately 2600 posts in the month of 2016 to nearly 6,000 in 2017, when the accounts were closed. For all three years covered by the report, Russian Instagram posts generated 185 million likes and 4 million user comments.
While researchers fought to interpret YouTube data submitted from Google, they could track links from other sites to YouTube, offering a “proxy” to understand the role played by the game platform.
“The proxy is imperfect,” the researchers wrote, “but the IRA’s extensive use of links to YouTube videos leaves little doubt about the IRA’s interest in exploiting Google’s video platform to target and manage US audience.”
The use of YouTube, like the other platforms, seems to have grown after Trump’s choice. Twitter links to YouTube videos grew by 84 percent in the six months after the election, showed the data.
The Russians worked sharply across platforms when refining their tactics aimed at specific groups, sending links to accounts and websites to strengthen the operation’s success on each, the report shows.
“Black Matters US” had accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Tumblr and PayPal, according to researchers. By linking posts across these platforms, Russian operators could request donations, organize protests and rallies in real worlds and direct online traffic to a site controlled by the Russians.
The researchers found that when Facebook closed the page in August 2016, a new called “BM” appeared with more cultural and fewer political posts. It closely followed the contents of the @blackmatterus Instagram account.
The report that found operators also began to purchase Google ads to promote the “BlackMatters US” Web site with provocative messages like “Cops Kill Black Kids. Are you sure your son will not be next?” The related Twitter- The account complained about the suspension of the Facebook page and accused the technical company of “supporting white supremacy.”