Most of the coverage of Russian meddling involves their attempt to effect the outcome of the 2016 US election. I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal.
The majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election. We shared that fact, but very few outlets have covered it because it doesn’t align with the main media narrative of Tump and the election.
So two possibilities...
1. The same "brilliant" Russian conspiracy to rig the election with Facebook ads was clueless as to how Facebook ads worked. And didn't understand that they would be spending most of their money for post-election views.
When an alleged conspiracy is both brilliant and stupid, that's generally a sign that it's a conspiracy theory, not an actual conspiracy. Either the Russian troll farm managed to win the election while spending a fraction of either campaign on this mission because of its innovative understanding of Facebook ads. Or it didn't understand the first thing about Facebook ads.
You can have one or the other. But not both.
2. The Russians weren't out to influence the election. They were building the social influence level of their bots by pushing messages that were likely to be retweeted. The Americans they were trying to reach were those most likely to be open to messages skeptical about the United States government. And they calculated that those would be Sanders and Trump voters. But their goal had nothing to do with the election. Instead they had a core agenda dealing with Russian foreign policy that most Americans wouldn't care about.so they had to package it in issues that Americans would care about.
No. 2 is how influence operations actually work. No. 1 is one of those action movies that make no sense because the villains are both brilliant and clueless.