This is volume 2 of the Senate Intel report on Russia’s propaganda activities targeting Americans, on the left and the right, with fake Facebook groups and social media accounts. Despite the media’s false claims, Vol. 2 makes it clear this was not about the election.
Analysis of the behavior of the IRA-associated social media accounts makes dear that while the Russian information warfare campaign exploited the context of the election and election-related issues in 2016, the preponderance of the operational focus, as reflected repeatedly in content, account names, and audiences targeted, was on sociapy divisive issues-such as race, immigration, and Second Amendment rights-in an attempt to pit Americans against one another and against their government. The Committee found that IRA influence operatives consistently used hot-button, societal divisions in the United States as fodder for the content they published through social media in order to stoke anger, provoke outrage and protest, push Americans further away from one another, and foment distrust in government institutions. The divisive 2016 U.S. presidential election was just an additional feature of a much more expansive,, target-rich landscape of potential ideological and societal sensitivities.
The IRA was Russia’s troll org.
Again, we already knew this. A previous report and this report already showed that most of the activities were targeted at black people. Facebook itself revealed that most of the ad buys were post-election. (And the media responded with furious threats and attacks on Facebook.)
The Committee found that no single group of Americans was targeted by IRA information operatives more than African-Americans. By far, race and related issues were the preferred target of the information warfare campaign designed to divide the country in 2016. Evidence of the IRA’s overwhelming operational ei;nphasis on race is’ evident in the IRA’s Facebook advertisement content (over 66 percent contained a term related to race) and targeting (locational targeting was principally aimed at African Americans in key metropolitan areas with), its Face book pages (one of the IRA’s topperforming pages, “Blacktivist,” generated 11.2 million engagements with Facebook ‘ users), its Instagram content (five of the top 10 Instagram accounts were focused on African-American issues and audiences), its Twitter content (heavily focused on hotbutton issues with racial undertones, such as the NFL kneeling protests),
In other words, the Russkies were doing the same stuff they were doing during the Cold War.
They did appear to target some natsec candidates who were hostile to Russia, which is to be expected, but no real sign that they expected to be able to influence even the GOP primaries. Or that they did.
For decades, Soviet active measures pushed conspiratorial and disinformation narratives about the United States around the world. The KGB authored and published false stories and forged letters concerning the Kennedy assassination, including accounts suggesting CIA involvement in the killing. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the target of manufactured KGB narratives, as was Ronald Reagan. Russian intelligence officers planted anti-Reagan articles in Denmark, France, and India during his unsuccessful 1976 bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
A declassified U.S. State.Department document from 1981 outlines a series of realized Russian active measures operations, including the spread of falsehoods concerning U.S. complicity in the 1979 seizure of the Grand Mosque of Mecca and responsibility for the 1981 death of Panamanian General Omar Torrijos, as well as an elaborate deception involving multiple forgeries and false stories designed to undermine the Camp David peace process and to exacerbate tensions between the United States and Egypt. 48 Among the most widely known and successful active measures operations conducted during the Cold War centered on a conspiracy that the AIDS virus was manufactured by the United States at a military facility at Fort Detrick in Maryland. This fictional account of the virus’ origin received considerable news coverage, both in the United States and in over forty non-Cold War aligned countries around the world. 49 (U) I
n a 1998 CNN interview, retired KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin described active measures as “the heart and soul o[ Soviet intelligence”: Not intelligence collection, but subversion; active measures to weaken the West, td drive wedges in the Western community alliances of all sorts, particularly NATO; to sow discord among allies, to weaken the. United States in the eyes of the people of Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and thus to prepare ground in case . the war really occurs.
Not the ‘disinformation’ that the media had any problems with.