2023-11-13 update: The suspected IRA social media activities were of a commercial nature. The IRA was building an audience. Among other things, it exploited hot political topics – a well-known dishonest technique to get engagement. It did not even intend to sow or inflame division, much less to interfere in the elections. See articles 1, 2 from rbc.ru.
This said, the IRA activities provided net benefit to Hillary Clinton by activating and potentially increasing turnout of its potential voters. For example: “Facebook users engaged 11.2 million times with a top-performing page, “Blacktivist”, which was created by the Russian agency. Almost 100% of its YouTube content involved videos of violence perpetrated against African-American men, says the report.” (BBC)
It also damaged Trump and Republicans by creating and operating a Twitter account, pretending to represent Tennessee GOP: “@TEN_GOP, which was a Russian-backed account disguising itself as a conservative group in Tennessee, directs outrage over a specific issue trolls want to proliferate. @TEN_GOP had 115,000 followers and interacted with high-profile players” (CNET)
Later, it even supported Robert Mueller’s investigation, and he knew that! “… tweeting about Mueller’s indictment of their 13 IRA colleagues, writing, in part, ‘Still think this Russia thing is a hoax and a witch hunt? Because a lot of witches just got indicted.’ In other tweets, the alleged Project Lahkta [sic] accounts actually urged people to protect Mueller; on December 16, 2017, the indictment says, a fake Twitter account called @KaniJJackson posted, ‘If Trump fires Robert Mueller, we have to take to the streets in protest. Our democracy is at stake.’” (Wired)
2020-02-10 update: Based on media reports from 2014-2015, the IRA might have been used by the military and/or intelligence of the Russian Federation to develop and tests methods of causing physical events in the US through social media. These tests were successful, but not connected to the 2016 elections.
If so, Brennan, Comey, McCabe and their accomplices have intentionally misinterpreted intelligence information, leaving the US vulnerable to adversaries’ activity via social media. Adversaries can also use existing allies within the US, as shown in the excellent analysis by Yaacov Apelbaum:
“Within hours of the news that the Iranian Quds force commander, Qassem Soleimani, was killed there were over 200 US-wide pro-Iran demonstrations. … Evaluating the demonstration timeline, it is remarkable just how quickly the activists responded to the call to hit the streets. In the 24 hours between the news of Soleimani’s death on January 3rd and the early morning of January 4th, when the boots were on the ground, the organizers pulled all-nighters, printing and mounting thousands of signs and banners. They also solved complex logistic problems of transportation, food, and communications—all hallmarks of an efficient bureaucracy and well-funded organization.”
These demonstrations bring to mind indoctrination, training, and organization, conducted with the blessing of the top echelon of the Democratic party (including Keith Ellison, Al Gore, Elizabeth Warren), and financed by Silicon Valley (including Google and Facebook) with the idea that progressives must be prepared to fight back in the first hours and days of a national security crisis.
The article from October 2018:
The social media component of the alleged “Russian activities in the 2016 elections” was non-existent. The IRA, a.k.a. the “troll farm” in Russia, allegedly bought ads for about $100k; this is chump change and not even worthy of a government operation. Most of it has been spent on Facebook, and most ads ran AFTER the 2016 elections. Much of the rest ran between June 2015 and May 2016, long before election day. There have been no signs of anti-Hillary or pro-Trump bias. No links between IRA ad buys and RT. No evidence of involvement of the Russian government. No evidence that the ad buys were part of a coordinated campaign. On the contrary, the ads seem to be bought for different entities, or even by individuals for fun, profit, and/or self-expression. 75% of all ads were not targeted at specific states (USA Today, 2017-11-01), and only 10% of the ads were targeted at swing states (HuffPo, 2018-05-11). And the political ads are not that effective in changing minds: “Did anyone really listen to the ads? I think most of us tune them out almost immediately as political noise.” (USA Today, Readers Sound off) But the “accounts linked to IRA” placed 3,000-3,500 ads, so it’s always possible to pick an ad and targeting that supports any allegations.
Facebook, September 2017. An Update On Information Operations On Facebook
The vast majority of ads run by these accounts didn’t specifically reference the US presidential election, voting or a particular candidate.
USA Today, May 2018. We read every one of the 3,517 Facebook ads bought by Russians. Here’s what we found.
While some ads focused on topics as banal as business promotion or Pokémon, the company consistently promoted ads designed to inflame race-related tensions.
“These ads broadly sought to pit one American against another by exploiting faults in our society or race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other deeply cynical thoughts,” Schiff [D-CA] said in an interview with USA TODAY NETWORK.
This is exactly what Democrats were doing during the 2016 election campaign and afterwards.
Originally published on 2018-11-04.