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Mueller To Detail Trump Associates' Offers Of Russian Sanctions Relief

19 December, 2018, 05:39 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • An aide puts out examples of Facebook pages as executives appear before the House Intelligence Committee to answer questions related to Russian use of social media to influence U.S. elections on Capitol Hill in Washington

The social media tactics used by a Russian organisation to influence the 2016 U.S. elections were broader and more targeted than previously thought, two new reports released on Monday show.

The reports also support previous findings that the influence operations sought to polarize Americans by sowing political divisions on issues such as immigration and cultural and religious identities.

The panel's top Democrat, Mark Warner, said the reports indicate that "these attacks against our country were much more comprehensive, calculating and widespread than previously revealed".

The report said Russian hackers also targeted Republican senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and the late John McCain, as well as former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief James Comey, special prosecutor Robert Mueller, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Both the these reports were commissioned by the senate intelligence committee.

"It was very gratifying for me to read about these reports, because they simply reinforce or buttress what we said in our intelligence community assessment in January of 2017", he added.

Researchers say Russian operatives posted pictures and memes on several social media platforms with hopes of convincing Americans Mueller is corrupt.

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The reports were compiled by the cybersecurity firm New Knowledge and by the Computational Propaganda Research Project, a study by researchers at the University of Oxford and Graphika, a social media analysis firm.

Such efforts extended to Google-owned YouTube, despite Google's earlier assertion to Congress that Russian-made videos didn't target specific segments of the population.

The study says that there were 187 million engagements with users on Instagram, while there were 77 million on Facebook. It notes that peaks in Internet Research Agency advertising and organic activity - or posts, shares and comments by users - often corresponded with important dates in the US calendar, crises and worldwide events. Twitter said it has made "significant strides since 2016 to counter manipulation of our service". The effort was urge them - African Americans and supporters of Bernie Sanders - to shun Hillary Clinton.

While those on both sides of the aisle continue arguing about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, there finally appears to be major movement by Mueller on this front.

"With at least some of the Russian government's goals achieved in the face of little diplomatic or other pushback, it appears likely that the United States will continue to face Russian interference for the foreseeable future", the researchers wrote.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office has been engaged in a months-long legal battle against alleged Russian troll farms who have been accused of carrying out a plot to interfere with the 2016 election through various methods, including spreading political messages online.

The reports show how, two years later, US lawmakers are still learning from Russia's 2016 intervention and trying to craft policy that would shore up USA defenses against disinformation.


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