’Russiagate’ is dead, but the control over social media the US government gained from it is here to stay


Donald Trump’s time as president has been dominated by years of mainstream news headlines declaring that his unexpected victory was thanks to St Petersburg’s Internet Research Agency (aka “The Russian IRA”).

The company reportedly brought together online networks of bots and trolls that perpetuate pro-Trump propaganda in an attempt to get the outsider to vote at the request of the Kremlin. This story quickly became widely accepted among liberals in the US and is still entrenched – but a new study conclusively proves it to be false.

Expose a lie

The paper, published in the respected academic journal Nature, examines Twitter users’ exposure to alleged activity on the social media platform by the IRA during the 2016 US election. “and its relationship to attitudes and voting behavior.”

The findings of the study speak for themselves. For example, 70% of alleged IRA-related posts during that campaign were seen by only 1% of the network’s users, “who strongly identified as Republicans.”

The coverage of these messages was additionally “overshadowed by content from domestic news media and politicians.” The academics thought so too “no evidence of a meaningful relationship” between exposure to these tweets, and “changes in attitudes, polarization, or voting behavior.”

Alleged IRA posts seen by users on Twitter were “overshadowed – by an order of magnitude – by reports from national news media and politicians.” For every four IRA tweets published in the last month of the 2016 election campaign, an average of 106 per day were seen from national news media and 35 per day from US politicians. In other words, 25 times and nine times more posts respectively.

The academics also examined whether there was a link between exposure to alleged IRA postings and “changes in respondents’ views on salient election issues” and political polarization, and explores them further “eight key policy issues that stood out during the election, and respondents’ self-reported political ideology.” They concluded bluntly that there weren’t any “statistically significant relationships between exposure to any of the problem-based and polarization outcomes.”

Extensive data-based analyzes have also been performed “examine the relationship between exposure to Russian foreign influence bills and voting choice.” Again, the conclusion couldn’t be more damning – “the relationship between the number of posts from Russian foreign influence accounts users are exposed to and voting for Donald Trump is close to zero (and not statistically significant).”

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“This is the case whether the outcome is measured as vote choice in the election itself; the ranking of Clinton and Trump on equivalent survey questions across survey waves; and with the broader yardstick that captures whether voting behavior more generally favored Trump or Clinton through abstentions, changes in vote choice, or voting for a third party.

Social media is part of the problem

These findings may not be news to some. The headline claims of news coverage and reports from supposed “disinformation” experts testifying to the existence of a Russian conspiracy on social media to elect Trump often sounded seismic – the alleged complicity has been repeatedly likened to another Pearl Harbor. But no evidence has ever emerged to support this accusation.

Take, for example, an official Facebook investigation into IRA-paid advertising. It estimated that 10 million US citizens saw them, although 56% were published after the election. About a quarter were not seen by anyone, and less than $3 was spent on a given campaign in 50% of cases.

While 10 million views may sound significant, the new academic study calls for calm:

“You have to be skeptical about the possible effects on attitudes and voting behaviour. The large body of political science research examining the effects of traditional election campaigns on voting behavior finds little evidence of anything other than minimal effects, even when messages are well targeted and delivered in politically favorable environments.

Recent #TwitterFiles revelations, completely ignored by the mainstream media but completely dissected by RT, underline the usefulness of claims of Russian interference in Western democratic processes to the US national security state. They showed how Twitter was pressured by US intelligence agencies, lawmakers, pundits and journalists to conduct extensive research into alleged Russian disinformation on its platform after the 2016 election.

New Twitter bombshell: How US spies used false claims of Russian election meddling to bring the tech giant into line

After several exhaustive official investigations turned up no evidence to support the existence of Kremlin-backed bot or troll networks, Twitter executives were successfully threatened with the prospect of restrictions on political advertising — which could have damaged the company’s business model. harm – to grant US spy agencies an effective back door to their operations. Staffers were reduced to effective go-betweens for the US government, censoring content and deplatforming users at the direct request of Washington’s power elite.

Despite Elon Musk’s recent takeover of Twitter and the return of many long-banned dissident voices to the platform, the way the company operates may not have changed significantly.

For starters, the quagmire of former military and intelligence officials at the highest levels of the company who decide which users can get a grip and which can’t, and what users can and can’t see, has no longer been drained. The threat of a mass exodus of advertisers, which would soon result in probable bankruptcy, may have left the new owner cold-hearted about making further radical changes to the social network and who runs it.

Twitter may have been launched with the best of intentions, but its effectiveness for information warfare was clearly recognized early on by Western spy agencies, and it has served as a highly effective tool in this field for much of its existence. However, as the academic paper testifies, it was never exploited by Russia or Russians, but rather by the same powerful figures and entities who told Americans it was all because of Moscow.

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