Imaginary Social Media Component of Imaginary Russian Meddling

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.