THE RUSSIANS ARE HERE
Social media accounts linked to the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) began spreading “brazen” misinformation connected to the 2020 election last year, New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice said in a report released Thursday.
The researchers tied that information to the IRA, a St. Petersburg-based state-sponsored group that, according to U.S. intelligence agencies and former special counsel Robert Mueller, was primarily responsible for pushing disinformation to sow division and promote the campaign of now-President Trump during the 2016 elections.
The data removed by Facebook — which the company at the time noted showed “some links” to the IRA — included around 75,000 posts from one IRA-linked Facebook account and 50 IRA-linked Instagram accounts.
“Russia’s trolls pretended to be American people, including political groups and candidates,” Brennan Center-affiliated Professor Young Mie Kim wrote of the data removed in 2019. “They tried to sow division by targeting both the left and right with posts to foment outrage, fear, and hostility. Much of their activity seemed designed to discourage certain people from voting. And they focused on swing states.”
She concluded that, based on the data analyzed, “it is very clear that as of September 2019, the IRA-linked groups already have begun a systematic campaign operation to influence the 2020 elections on Facebook and Instagram.”
Kim in the report also said that the IRA’s approach to election disinformation was “evolving,” pointing to improvements made at impersonating candidates and mimicking campaign logos.