A report that details efforts by Russia’s Internet Research Agency to influence the 2016 presidential election and aid President Donald Trump says special counsel Robert Mueller was one of the organization’s targets, The Washington Post reports.
The report, prepared by the social media research firm New Knowledge for the Senate Intelligence Committee, details efforts by the Internet Research Agency to “confuse, distract and ultimately discourage members [of Trump’s main opposition groups] from voting.”
The report comes one day after the Post detailed Russia’s use of every major social media platform to influence online discourse by attempting to discourage black voters and “blur the lines between reality and fiction.”
Per the Post, Russian operatives made false claims on social media accounts that Mueller had worked in the past with “radical Islamic groups.” The New Knowledge analysis also said Russians surprisingly started to use Instagram more heavily after Trump was elected, and that the most popular posts “praised African-American culture and achievement.”
The IRA, though, also targeted that community for voter suppression messages.
Facebook said in a statement that it has “made progress in helping prevent interference on our platforms during elections, strengthened our policies against voter suppression ahead of the 2018 midterms, and funded independent research on the impact of social media on democracy.”
Reddit and Medium did not respond to requests for comment and Tumblr pointed to a November blog post announcing it had taken down Russian-related disinformation ahead of the midterm elections election. PayPal said it “works to combat and prevent the illicit use of our services,” and Twitter said it has made “significant strides since 2016 to counter manipulation of our service.”
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