Chris White | Energy Reporter
- Special counsel Robert Muellers report sheds light on a social media misinformation campaign by Democratic operatives who allegedly tried to steer Alabama conservatives into opposing Roy Moores senatorial campaign.
- Muellers report appears to show an explicit connection between Russias trolling effort and the Democratic campaign targeting Alabamas midterm election.
- Muellers report reveals a stark difference between Russias campaign to spread misinformation and one in which Democrats allegedly engaged during the midterm election.
Special counsel Robert Muellers report suggests Russias troll job likely paved the way for Democratic officials who would eventually go on to create a similar campaign ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
The size, scope, and tactics the Internet Research Agency (IRA) used to troll social media users in the U.S. leading up to the presidential election are virtually identical to those a slew of Democratic operatives allegedly used before a 2017 midterm election in Alabama. The IRA kicked off its ploy in 2014, when operatives focused on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube users to tilt them toward polar political positions.
IRA created Twitter accounts in the names of fictitious U.S. grassroots groups and used them to pose as anti-immigration groups, Tea Party activists, Black Lives Matter protesters, among other conservative advocates, according to the report. The technique, which included creating conservative-sounding accounts like @TEN_ GOP, was designed to get some groups within the U.S. animated as elections neared.
IRA ultimately worked to support then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at the expense of the presidents 2016 opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the report notes. The groups reach was expansive and required a mixture of trolling and social media marketing expertise.
The troll farm, funded in part by Russian companies Concord Management and Consulting and Concord Catering, for instance, purchased advertisements from Facebook that promoted IRA groups on news feeds inside the U.S. The group bought over 3,500 ads, with the expenditures totaling $100,000, Muellers report noted, citing information Facebook reported in 2017.
Robert Mueller, as FBI director, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Federal Bureau of Investigation oversight on Capitol Hill in Washington June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
One post from an account called “Being Patriotic” promoted what appears to be a phony event in Pennsylvania for “Miners for Trump” and advocated for coal-mining jobs. Another alleged that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a 69 percent disapproval rate among all veterans and detailed accusations related to the 2012 Benghazi attack and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Facebook also announced in 2017 that the content likely reached 126 million users, though that number is often misconstrued. It is difficult to determine how many people saw any of the posts, as Facebook users are inundated with nonstop content from a variety of places.
Whether Americans saw the posts might be irrelevant given the sheer amount of media attention devoted to the efforts. News about Russian trolling and the hacking of Democratic operative John Podestas emails was partially responsible for Muellers investigation, which absorbed the bulk of the past two years.
Most of the information cited in Muellers report has been previously reported, yet the memo itself is a comprehensive document flushing out the full range of Russias trolling. (RELATED: Here Are Two Of The Russian-Brought Facebook Ads That Helped Sway The Election)
Democratic operatives appeared to borrow similar techniques in the intervening years. A trove of reports published in January show that two Obama-era officials were partially responsible for a misinformation campaign designed to derail Republican Roy Moores 2017 senatorial campaign in Alabama.
Two wealthy Virginia donors who wanted to defeat Moore funded an anti-alcohol project, according to a person who worked on the project and who spoke on condition of anonymity. The project was one of two $100,000 campaigns designed to help Moores Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, who barely won the 2017 special election. Both projects cost the same amount as the ERA campaign but were designed to suppress conservative zeal.
Operatives with New Knowledge, a group affiliated with operativRead More – Source