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Russian interference in the election was worse than we thought

Russian interference in the election was worse than we thought

Russian interference in the 2016 USA presidential election on social media was more widespread than previously thought and included attempts to divide Americans by race and extreme ideology, according to reports by private experts released on Monday by United States senators from both parties.

"What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party - and specifically Donald Trump", the report says, according to a draft copy obtained by the Washington Post.

Earlier this year, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office indicted 13 Russian individuals and three corporate entities in an alleged conspiracy to tamper with the U.S. presidential race by adopting false online personas to push divisive messages, travelling to the United States to collect intelligence and staging political rallies.

"Instagram was a significant front in the IRA's influence operation, something that Facebook executives appear to have avoided mentioning in Congressional testimony", the researchers wrote.

The report was compiled by the cybersecurity firm, New Knowledge, with data provided by the Senate committee from major tech companies, Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

The Post says the Senate Intelligence Committee will release the report in full later this week.

U.S. Senate to publish report detailing scope of Russian meddling in 2016 U.S. election
Report: Russians Used Many Social Media Platforms to Aid Trump

"This should stand as a wake up call to us all that none of us are immune from this threat, and it is time to get serious in addressing this challenge", Warner said in a statement Monday.

The study showed the IRA US campaign began in 2015, aiming to mobilize conservative voters, with no specific backing for Trump at the time.

The New Knowledge study says that there were 187 million engagements with users on Instagram, while there were 77 million on Facebook. "Our assessment is that Instagram is likely to be a key battleground on an ongoing basis". It details the sophisticated attempts to infiltrate internet games, browser extensions, and music apps.

President Donald Trump says he does not believe Russian Federation is still targeting the United States, contradicting USA intelligence assessments that Moscow was continuing its attempts to meddle in American elections.

IRA was established by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Several months later, Mueller's indictment laid out a vast, organized Russian effort to sway political opinion. And it notes that spikes in the IRA's advertising and organic activity match up with important dates in USA politics, crises and worldwide events.

In particular, the report identifies 81 Facebook pages created by the IRA, 30 of which targeted black Americans and amassed 1.2 million followers.

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