What if everything you knew about Russian election trolling was a lie?
That’s the problem faced by two Senate Intelligence Commission reports commissioned from two outside organizations which struggle with the problem of reconciling the facts about Russian election trolling with upholding the Clinton campaign’s conspiracy theory about Trump and the Russians.
The two reports, from New Knowledge and Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project, about Russian disinformation serve as their own disinformation campaign, pushing the same false claims that the Russians had sought to help Trump win, even when they were working against him.
New Knowledge is a purely partisan source and its report amplifies echo chamber conspiracies about Trump, while Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project report is the adult in the room, occasionally conceding the more nuanced reality of the Russian campaign by noting that peak Russian propaganda volume actually occurred long after the election during the Syria missile strike: a key national interest area for Russia. It also confirms what Facebook has already told us, that Russian activity actually increased after the election.
That suggests an influence operation rather than election interference.
It also reveals that the Russians bought over 1,000 ads targeting African-Americans and less than 300 targeting conservatives. There were 81 social justice ads and only 24 patriotism ads, 66 pro-gun ads and 70 LGBT ads, 43 veteran ads and 57 Muslim ads, not to mention 143 Latin American culture ads.
The African-American ads also produced over 1.5 million clicks while the conservative ads produced well below 500,000. The former ads also racked up over 15 million impressions while the conservative ads scored below 6 million. Not only did the Russians seem to spend less time and achieve fewer result by targeting conservatives, but they produced more clicks, 548,139, by targeting Latinos.
So the actual story of Russia’s Facebook operations is that they targeted African-Americans and even Latinos more than conservatives. That would be entirely in line with Russia’s past propaganda, and its influence operations in the United States, but it doesn’t fit the Clinton conspiracy theory.
Read the full story from Front Page Mag
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