Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence United States Senate on Russian Active Measures Campaigns and Interference in the 2016 U.S. Election: Volume 2: Russia's Use of Social Media, with Additional Views
Date of this Version
116TH CONGRESS 1st Session SENATE, REPORT 116-XX
In 2016, Russian operatives associated with the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) used social media to conduct an information warfare campaign designed to spread disinformation and societal division in the United States. Masquerading as Americans, these operatives used targeted advertisements, intentionally falsified news articles, self-generated content, and social media platform tools to interact with and attempt to deceive tens of millions of social media users in the United States. This campaign sought to polarize Americans on the basis of societal, ideological, and racial differences, provoked real world events, and was part of a foreign government's covert support of Russia's favored candidate in the U.S. presidential election.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence undertook a study of these events, consistent with its congressional mandate to oversee and conduct oversight of the intelligence activities and programs of the United States Government, to include the effectiveness of the Intelligence Community's counterintelligence function. In addition to the work of the professional staff of the Committee, the Committee's findings drew from the input of cybersecurity professionals, social media companies, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and researchers and experts in social network analysis, political content, disinformation, hate speech, algorithms, and automation, working under the auspices of the Committee's Technical Advisory Group (TAG).
The Committee found, that the IRA sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton's chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin.
The Committee found that the IRA' s :lnformation warfare campaign was broad in scope and entailed objectives beyond the result of the 2016 presidential election. Further, the Committee's analysis of the IRA's activities on social media supports the key judgments of the January 6, 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment, "Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections," that "Russia's, goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton,· and harm her electability and potential presidency." However, where the Intelligence Community assessed that the Russian government "aspired to help President-elect Trump's election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him," the Committee found that IRA social media activity was overtly and almost invariably supportive of then-candidate Trump, and to the detriment .of Secretary Clinton's campaign.
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