Trump, Without Evidence, Blasts Social Media Giants For Opposition "Bias"

President Donald Trump

The Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) obtained far more user engagement on Instagram than Facebook in the 2016 USA elections, with about 184 million users clicking "Likes" on the Instagram platform compared to the figure of about 37.6 million on Facebook, said the SIC report in a detailed analysis of "state actors" activities on U.S. social media networks.

The report, prepared by the social media research firm New Knowledge for the Senate Intelligence Committee, details efforts by the Internet Research Agency to "confuse, distract and ultimately discourage members [of Trump's main opposition groups] from voting".

Even the data they released was hard to handle, the researchers said.

"What they tried to do is divide United States public opinion by the existing divisions that were there", Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher said, reporting from Washington, DC.

"This newly released data demonstrates how aggressively Russian Federation sought to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology, and how the IRA actively worked to erode trust in our democratic institutions", Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a Republican, said in a statement Monday.

"Most troublingly, it shows that these activities have not stopped", said Burr, a North Carolina Republican.

They are based on information provided by the panel and the social media companies themselves.

Senator Mark Warner, the committee's top Democrat, said, "These reports demonstrate the extent to which the Russians exploited the fault lines of our society to divide Americans in an attempt to undermine and manipulate our democracy".

Reporters on Tuesday continued to examine two reports submitted to the Senate that contend social media companies helped Russians plant misleading information favoring President Trump during the 2016 presidential election. "Only votes matter to Hillary Clinton".

The Russian operatives unloaded on Mueller through fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter and beyond, falsely claiming that the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director was corrupt and that the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election were crackpot conspiracies. Over the years of the disinformation campaign, Instagram generated responses on a scale beyond any of the others - with 187 million comments, likes and other user reactions, more than Twitter and Facebook combined. "Alternately, it is possible that the IRA's Instagram engagement was the result of click farms", the report wrote. "Our assessment is that Instagram is likely to be a key battleground on an ongoing basis".

The second report, carried out by a team of US-based specialists, from the company New Knowledge, Columbia University and Canfield Research, focused on how the St.Petersburg-based IRA troll factory targeted African-American voters in particular.

But the most extensive analysis yet of thousands of IRA ads and posts across social media platforms in 2015-2017 showed a special emphasis on provoking the anger of black Americans so that they would stay home on election day. But it was not known yet if it had endorsed them.

Russians seeking to influence USA elections through social media had their eyes on Instagram and the black community. Several months later, Mueller's indictment laid out a vast, organized Russian effort to sway political opinion. While the social media companies had already detailed some of the efforts, the indictment tied real people to the operation and named 13 Russians responsible.

The Kremlin has denied the allegations of meddling.

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