The Washington Post says that a damning report making the rounds in Washington, D.C., right now concludes that Russians working at the Internet Research Agency used data sets about users provided by Facebook, Twitter, and Google to identify key interests groups in America not only to target them with messaging to sway them into voting for Trump before the 2016 election, but to sway them to continue supporting Trump after he made it into the White House.
The research in the report was conducted by Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika, a network analysis firm, and was prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee. As the Post reports:
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 found that the Russians aimed particular energy at emboldening conservatives on issues including gun rights and immigration. They also tried to disrupt left-leaning African-American voters by spreading misleading information about how to vote and undermining their faith in elections. As the report says:
“What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party–and specifically Donald Trump. 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.”
But it’s not just Google, Facebook, and Twitter that were the only digital platforms the Internet Research Agency used to sway the 2016 elections. The report also found Russia used YouTube, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest as well as Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail email accounts to spread their narratives and misinformation.
The Post says the Senate Intelligence Committee will release the report in full later this week. However, it’s unknown if the SIC, which is a bipartisan committee, will endorse the findings in the report.