All Rights Reserved. A second group was charged with honing and launching mass spearphishing operations, meant to identify key targets within Clinton's campaign and craft believable emails persuading them to click and, therefore, install the custom malware. © 2020 CNBC LLC. Got a confidential news tip? The group’s social media and digital messaging contrasts with earlier social media activity by Russian actors who may have tried to interfere in the election. The U.S. went so far as to turn off the IRA’s internet on Election Day 2018. She argues that this type of event that isn’t explicitly about elections could fall through the cracks, and says that Facebook should be aware of all users using the platform’s paid features. By joining Slate Plus you support our work and get exclusive content. The report found that no one in the Trump campaign knowingly interacted with anyone from the Internet Research Agency. "The earliest evidence ... was a 'confederate rally' in November 2015.

From those who responded with interest in attending, the IRA then sought a U.S. person to serve as the event’s coordinator. For its part, Facebook says that it's trying to make sure that such content stays off its platform.

Beyond the rallies, Russian agents were also selling sex toys, offering free self-defense classes in New York, recruiting Americans to work with them through job listings, soliciting women to send photos for a calendar, and even offering counseling to followers of a page called Army of Jesus who were struggling with porn addiction, as detailed in research last year from New Knowledge, a firm that studies Russian disinformation.

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“It also speaks to the challenges of organic reach. One of the larger rallies was held in Miami in August 2016. Attorney General nominee William Barr arrives for a meeting with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) on January 29, 2019 in Washington, DC.

"The investigation has not identified evidence that any Trump campaign official understood the requests were coming from foreign nationals," the report says.

The Mueller report gives the playbook for how the trolls were able to organize these events from an office in St. Petersburg, Russia: First, the IRA used one of its preexisting social media personas (Facebook groups and Twitter accounts, for example) to announce and promote the event. "That foreign actors, hiding behind fake accounts, abused our platform and other internet services to try to sow division and discord — and to try to undermine our election process — is an assault on democracy, and it violates all of our values.". The IRA continued to organize rallies even after the 2016 U.S. presidential election.". Global Business and Financial News, Stock Quotes, and Market Data and Analysis.

It’s unlikely that this audience is free or organic,” Haenschen said, referring to BlackMatters's Facebook reach which included over 99,000 users who liked the page, according to an archived version of the page from May 16, 2017.

The new report goes further, though, in examining how skilled the agency was at deceiving people offline, too—and also gives us a nice opportunity to reexamine and piece together some details that dripped out in the past couple of years while we waited for the final report.

A Division of NBCUniversal. The march is an example of the types of “organic content” — posts created by users, rather than as ads — that lawmakers are looking for as they investigate the extent of Russian political manipulation of social media platforms.

According to numbers in Facebook’s general counsel’s leaked congressional testimony, the number of people potentially touched by organic content eclipses the potential number reached by ads by hundreds of millions. The GRU officers sent hundreds of these emails to Clinton staffers, including official campaign accounts and Google accounts used by staffers.

“Join us in the streets! Facebook recently announced that it would introduce new transparency features, including making users who run election ads verify their identities with the company. Stop Trump and his bigoted agenda!” reads the Facebook event page for the rally. Two men stand in front of a Donald Trump flag while attending a rally in support of him on March 23 near Trump Tower in New York City. Internet Research Agency operatives didn’t mind looking weird in their quest to stoke tensions in America’s deeply polarized political climate. Russian operatives also communicated with the Trump campaign under false identities "without revealing their Russian association" and interacted with prominent pro-Trump activists to arrange political rallies, "confederate" events and even a #KidsforTrump organization, the report says. You’ve run out of free articles. The group’s protest was the fourth consecutive anti-Trump rally in New York following election night, and one of many across the country. The Trump campaign took notice of this covertly Russian-organized event and posted images of the rally on the then-candidate’s official Facebook page, prompting a Russian troll–operated fake American persona, Matt Skiber, to boast in a Facebook message that “Mr. And you'll never see this message again. Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about our products and services. But Haenschen believes Facebook’s paid features might have helped the event go viral.

The demonstration in New York City, which took place a few days after the election, appears to be the largest and most successful known effort to date pulled off by Russian-linked groups intent on using social media platforms to influence American politics.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign provides one of the most detailed looks at how Russia’s Internet Research Agency — the infamous Kremlin-linked troll farm — tried to hijack the … The department's focus is on interfering in the U.S. election. In 2016, other operatives were seen holding up signs at an event near the White House purportedly celebrating the birthday of Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a Russian tycoon alleged to have funded some of the interference campaigns and their associated social media ad buys.

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Others claimed to offer free legal education for immigrants. The Guardian at the time wrote that thousands of people actually showed up with protest signs in tow, though many of those protesters likely heard about the demonstration through other channels also promoting the rally. It’s not clear how long they stayed.

If you value our work, please disable your ad blocker. Facebook has estimated that IRA-controlled accounts reached up to 126 million people, with Twitter notifying 1.4 million people they may have been in contact with a Russia-controlled account. “This is another example of why it’s important to disclose who is paying for promoted posts on Facebook,” said Katherine Haenschen, a professor who researches digital media at Virginia Tech.

Others that actually did take place had a limited and isolated reach. But only two of the women who applied were granted visas, which allowed them to travel to America to conduct intelligence gathering, such as taking photographs that could then be later used in social media posts.