Russia used every major social media platform to influence online discourse and aid President Donald Trump during the presidential campaign and while he was in office, according to a report prepared for the Senate by Oxford University researchers and obtained by The Washington Post.
The Senate Intelligence Committee will release the report this week and hasn’t said whether it supports the findings.
The report details efforts by the Internet Research Agency to “confuse, distract and ultimately discourage members [of Trump’s main opposition groups] from voting.”
According to the Post, the group’s efforts peaked during key political moments, including during party conventions or presidential debates.
Researchers at Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika, a network analysis firm, rely on data provided to the committee and members of the House Intelligence Committee panel by Facebook and Google.
“What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party — and specifically Donald Trump,” the report says. “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.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller in February indicted the Internet Research Agency for using social media and other means to provoke strife among Americans in advance of the presidential election.
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