1. Why are Russia’s Attempts to influence the political mood in the United States, right now back to the topic?

on Monday, have been released two independently produced studies. You turn on both, especially the Online activities of the Internet Research Agency (IRA) in the period around the US presidential election in 2016. This Agency of the Putin-Familiar with its headquarters in St. Petersburg is described abroad as a Russian “Troll factory”. As trolls of the Internet are referred to users that create uncertainty, or online debates, interfere and manipulate.

2. Who wrote the studies and where can I read it?

both studies for the intelligence Committee of the US Senate were Made. For the two studies of millions of Internet were evaluated messages – on the one hand, from the company New Knowledge, on the other hand, the British University of Oxford in collaboration with the on the analysis of online networks, a company specializing in Graphika. The largest share of the investigated online messages of Twitter posts.

Both reports are freely available on the net. The New Knowledge-publishing 101 PDF pages and is available online here. The 47 PDF pages of the Oxford/Graphika-study, you can retrieve them here.

3. What are the findings provide the studies?

Much of what occurs in the studies, it is not surprising. As was already previously known that parts of the IRA targeted campaigns, tend to be left-wing voters by de-motivating messages of the participation in the elections and to mobilize conservative white voters.

In the Oxford/Graphika-study, it is stated that IRA I want to use with your messages under a concealed identity on Thousands of your online accounts is clearly “the Republicans and, in particular, Donald Trump.” In General, the creators of the study highlight that the IRA had often been to be particularly active, if in the USA or at the international level, the politically important events.

Although such findings hardly come as a surprise, the studies nevertheless, many interesting and in Parts of new insights:

Thus, the evaluations, for example, how intense, beside the actual Facebook-network also for the same group was recorded photo and video service to Instagram of the IRA with content. New Knowledge, 61.500 different Facebook Postings from the years 2015 to 2017, which originated from 81 IRA-pages, and the approximately 77 million interactions such as Likes are attracted to belong to the analysed data material. In a similar period, the IRA has published more than 133 Accounts but also 116.000 Instagram-Posts – with around 187 million interactions.

The Instagram Accounts of the IRA, and not on Russia, suggestive names like “blackstagram_”, “american.veterans” and “rainbow_nation_us” were part of several hundred thousand Followers.

Overview of the IRA-Instagram-Accounts according to a slide of New Knowledge

US media such as the New York Times highlighting that the New Knowledge report shows once again that the IRA activity in the beach, aimed to a considerable extent on African Americans. The media attention focused on Facebook pages, the speeches of the political right, says the newspaper. According to the study, would have been addressed but, at least on Facebook, 30 of the 81 IRA-pages to African Americans and only 25 of the political rights. From both studies, as were multifaceted, the Russian Attempts to exert influence, in terms of content, Format and platform. As in the case of classical advertising campaigns have used the IRA sometimes different ways to the same messages to different groups of users with stringent, as it says in the New Knowledge report. The IRA was, therefore, on platforms such as Google+, YouTube, and Reddit, but also on Pinterest, Vine and Tumblr. In addition, she has published, among other things, a (now no longer retrievable) Podcast on Soundcloud and designed telephone Hotlines: One of them should serve fraud, for example, draw attention to the topic of choice, another was addressed to people who have the feeling that you masturbate to often. Anyway, this is one of the core knowledge from the New-Knowledge-report: The Russian Online-manipulators, it was not the intention to polarise with each Posting. Sometimes it was, apparently, the goal is to win Accounts over time Followers and to give them credibility and importance. The vast majority of the Russian Propaganda Posts was not a “hate speech”, it says: “a Lot of it wasn’t even particularly offensive.” In All, it was Russia but it is clear, therefore, to divide the American society and to normalize about political points of view, for the Russian government, says the report.
The makers of Oxford/Graphika study also emphasize once again that the IRA, to classic, of people wrote posts has reached more users with ads.

4. The Russian Attempts to exert influence ended with the election of Donald Trumps?

no. Both studies highlight that Russia’s online campaigns have run for 2016 more and more run – even if in a different Form than before, because the media and the social networks have made the theme stronger. “In 2017, as reported by the media on its Facebook and Twitter operations, shifted the IRA the bulk of their activities on Instagram,” for example, in the New-Knowledge-study.

its creators also stress explicitly that the United States will also most likely see in the foreseeable future with the attempt of Russian influence faced.

5. What are the consequences of the US policy?

First of all, the influence attempts of Russia clearly as a Problem named. The Republican Committee Chairman Richard Burr said on Monday that showed studies of how “aggressive” Russia tried to split the US society along race, Religion and belief and trust in democratic institutions is undermined. The Chairman of the opposition Democrats in the intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, described the campaign as an “attack on our democracy”.

Since 2017 there had been several, but not always convincing Attempts of U.S. policy, to draw conclusions from the events around the election in 2016. So there was, for example, Congress hearings with representatives of large Tech companies such as Twitter and Facebook.

on the basis of the Russia-special investigator Robert Mueller, the U.S. Department of justice, also made in February of charges against the IRA. The Kremlin denies, however, any allegations that he had interfered in the US election.

U.S. President Donald Trump had to be assigned adopted in September, an arrangement, according to the countries automatically with economic sanctions if they are caught in trying to influence U.S. elections.

the New Knowledge-researchers Renee DiResta requested that social networks, independent scientists, and the U.S. should do government in the future more together against campaigns of Disinformation. “Neither can we rely solely on the Social Media platforms,” wrote DiResta in a Newspaper article, “still, we should charge them the full load.”

6. What Facebook, Google and Twitter say?

On demand of the AP news Agency they wanted to speak to either Facebook or Google, Twitter yet to the studies. In fact, the role of the Tech companies was touched on the topic of choice, influence and enlightenment, not notable, as the “New York Times” here.

according to The article, all three of the companies, certain information refused. Facebook held, therefore, the comments of users to content back generated by the IRA. YouTube was not known how many people have seen from the IRA’s uploaded Videos.

In the New-Knowledge-report, in each set of data was provided to the intelligence Committee of the Senate (and the scientists) have missed the “core components that would have provided a more complete and better usable image”.

with Material from AFP and AP

Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.