Russian government operatives used social media in 2016 to help the Trump campaign.

A sophisticated effort targeted African Americans to suppress their enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton.

From the New York Times:

“The Russian influence campaign on social media in the 2016 election made an extraordinary effort to target African-Americans, used an array of tactics to try to suppress turnout among Democratic voters and unleashed a blizzard of activity on Instagram that rivaled or exceeded its posts on Facebook, according to a report produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“The report adds new details to the portrait that has emerged over the last two years of the energy and imagination of the Russian effort to sway American opinion and divide the country, which the authors said continues to this day.

“Active and ongoing interference operations remain on several platforms,” says the report, produced by New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company based in Austin, Texas, along with researchers at Columbia University and Canfield Research LLC. One continuing Russian campaign, for instance, seeks to influence opinion on Syria by promoting Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president and a Russian ally in the brutal conflict there.

“The New Knowledge report, which was obtained by The New York Times in advance of its scheduled release on Monday, is one of two commissioned by the Senate committee on a bipartisan basis. They are based largely on data about the Russian operations provided to the Senate by Facebook, Twitter and the other companies whose platforms were used.”

From the Washington Post:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2018/12/17/daily-202-russian-efforts-to-manipulate-african-americans-show-sophistication-of-disinformation-campaign/5c1739291b326b2d6629d4c6/?utm_term=.a31b381ef19b

THE BIG IDEA: A new report prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee reveals that the Russians, in their bid to boost President Trump, have been more fixated than previously understood on trying to dampen African American political engagement.

“Researchers at Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika, a network analysis firm, spent seven months analyzing millions of social media posts that major technology firms turned over to congressional investigators. Their goal was to understand the inner workings of the Internet Research Agency, which the U.S. government has charged with criminal offenses for interfering in the 2016 election.

“It turns out that African Americans were targeted with more Facebook ads than any other group, including conservatives.

“Three of the four most-liked Facebook posts put up by the Russian influence effort came from an account called Blacktivist that urged the community to be more cynical about politics. African Americans were urged to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein throughout the month before the 2016 election. A post on Oct. 29 that year declared: “NO LIVES MATTER TO HILLARY CLINTON. ONLY VOTES MATTER TO HILLARY CLINTON.” A message on Nov. 3 added: “NOT VOTING is a way to exercise our rights.”

“On Twitter, four of the Russian agency’s five most‐retweeted accounts catered exclusively to African Americans.

“On Instagram, all five of the most-liked posts created by the Russians were aimed at African American women. They included the hashtags #blackpower, #blackpride, #unapologeticallyblack, #blacklivesmatter, #icantbreathe, #riot and #blackgirlskillingit.

“The influence operation – run out of St. Petersburg – was sophisticated, relentless and became more effective with time. Its goal was to manipulate identity politics to tear America apart. The Soviet Union had also tried to heighten racial divisions during the Cold War, but their operatives lacked access to the technology platforms that now make it so easy.

“Messaging to African Americans sought to divert their political energy away from established political institutions by preying on anger with structural inequalities … including police violence, poverty, and disproportionate levels of incarceration,” the report says. “These campaigns pushed a message that the best way to advance the cause of the African American community was to boycott the election and focus on other issues instead.”