Study Shows Russian Trolls Never Actually Influenced Anyone

Flashback.

This mess began with Dems insisting that Russian trolling campaigns won President Trump the election. In reality, much of the trolling was...

1. Concentrated after the election

2. Targeted African-Americans

3. Contained both pro and anti Trump messages

That makes perfect sense if you understand what the Russians were doing which was trying to slip their own messages into the ideological and tribal echo chambers that already existed. Not influencing the outcome of elections in the United States.

And thus a Duke survey finds that the Russians didn't change anybody's mind.

Russian influence on US Twitter users - PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

A study examines the link between Russian social media campaigns and political polarization in the United States. Amid concern that social media campaigns launched by Russia influenced political attitudes in the United States, the extent to which such campaigns increased political polarization is unclear. Christopher A. Bail and colleagues analyzed whether interacting online with Russian trolls influenced the political attitudes and behaviors of 1,239 Republicans and Democrats in the United States who use Twitter. The authors linked data from surveys conducted in October and November of 2017 with data from the social media platform itself. The authors found no evidence that trolling accounts maintained by the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) significantly influenced ideology, opinions about social policy issues, attitudes of partisans toward each other, or patterns of political following on Twitter. The findings suggest that IRA accounts may not have significantly polarized the US public, in part because they mostly interacted with individuals who were already highly polarized. Although the authors were unable to analyze the role of Russian influence in the 2016 US presidential election, the findings are consistent with previous research showing the difficulty of altering people's political views, according to the authors.

Nor were the Russians trying to alter their views. Instead, they served up left-wing clickbait to people on the Left and right-wing clickbait to people on the Right. What they would have wanted to do is reshape attitudes toward, say, Syria. But it's doubtful that they had enough traction or attention spans to accomplish that. And the messages in that regard, e.g. don't go into Syria, were fairly pervasive already.

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