STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

WaPo report shows extent of election meddling

A new report prepared for the Senate shows the Russian disinformation operation around the 2016 US presidential election used every major social media platform to help elect President Donald Trump and support him in office, The Washington Post reports.

Posted: Dec 17, 2018 10:22 PM
Updated: Dec 17, 2018 10:29 PM

The Senate Intelligence Committee has been advised that social media companies might have provided the "bare minimum" amount of data to aid the panel's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to a person familiar with a report commissioned by the committee.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is set to release two reports on Monday detailing the breadth of a Russian social media campaign to sow discord in the United States, a source familiar with the release told CNN.

The reports, both commissioned by the committee, are based on troves of data Facebook, Twitter, and Google handed over to the committee about the Russian campaign to influence the 2016 US presidential election. Much of the data has not previously been disclosed publicly.

The committee hired an online intelligence firm to review data on Russian social media accounts that posed as American accounts.

New Knowledge, one of the firms hired by the committee, tracks online disinformation. In its report to lawmakers, the firm said that the social media companies could have provided more valuable data to the committee and also could have presented it in a more accessible format.

The firm advised lawmakers that there are likely more Russian accounts that the social media companies failed to identify, according to person familiar with the report.

The firm analyzed more than 10 million tweets, 116,000 Instagram posts, and 61,500 Facebook posts sent by the Russian government-linked troll group the Internet Research Agency, according to the source familiar with the report. The IRA was indicted in February by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Part of the study focuses on the troll group's "media impersonation and diminishment strategy," according to the person familiar with the report.

The researchers found there were 44 Twitter accounts posing as US-related news organizations that had amassed more than 600,000 followers. The report notes that many of the phony news organizations posed as local outlets and may have been based on studies that show Americans trust local media over national outlets.

As CNN and other outlets have previously reported, the group also set up a bunch of phony sites targeting specific groups, such as "Black Matters US" that posed as a black activist group and actually conducted real interviews with Americans.

The researchers also found the Russians consistently "attempted to erode trust in mainstream media" and regularly portrayed WikiLeaks in a positive light, according to the source.

A spokesperson for Google said the company did not have a comment on the report but pointed to some of the steps the company has taken to combat disinformation since 2016.

A Twitter spokesperson told CNN the company has made "significant strides" against the manipulation of its service.

"Our singular focus is to improve the health of the public conversation on our platform, and protecting the integrity of elections is an important aspect of that mission," the spokesperson said. "We've made significant strides since 2016 to counter manipulation of our service, which includes our release of additional data in October related to previously disclosed activities to enable further independent academic research and investigation."

A spokesperson for Facebook said they didn't have a comment on the report.

New Knowledge declined to provide a comment to CNN.

While the tech giants were criticized for their cooperation with the Senate Intelligence committee about 2016 meddling, the Justice Department praised the "exceptional cooperation" from Facebook and Twitter in October when it indicted a woman it alleged was involved in an effort to meddle in the 2018 midterm elections.

Separate report

New Knowledge's report is due to be made public by the committee this week along with a separate report, also commissioned by the committee, that found the IRA was active on every social media platform and sought to help Trump win. The Washington Post reported the details of the separate report, by Oxford University's Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika, a network analysis firm, on Sunday.

The separate report shows that Russians working at IRA divided Americans into key interest groups in order to target messaging, the Post reported.

The Russians focused on turning out conservatives to vote with messaging about gun rights and immigration, according to the Post, and spread misinformation to left-leaning African-American voters about how to vote to and tried to undermine their faith in elections. Many other groups, including Latinos, Muslims, Christians, gay men and women, liberals, Southerners and veterans, were also targeted by thousands of social media accounts controlled by Russians, the Post reported.

"What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party -- and specifically Donald Trump," the draft of the report obtained by the Post reads. "Trump is mentioned most in campaigns targeting conservatives and right-wing voters, where the messaging encouraged these groups to support his campaign."

"The main groups that could challenge Trump were then provided messaging that sought to confuse, distract and ultimately discourage members from voting," the report continues, according to the Post.

The Senate Intelligence Committee hasn't announced if it supports the report's findings, but it plans to publicly release the report along with another separate report later this week, the Post reported.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 750432

Reported Deaths: 13764
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1031991782
Lake556411007
Allen41662691
St. Joseph36974564
Hamilton36561417
Elkhart29390459
Tippecanoe22886225
Vanderburgh22549400
Porter19348325
Johnson18432388
Hendricks17608317
Clark13206193
Madison13139344
Vigo12608253
LaPorte12415221
Monroe12188175
Delaware10954198
Howard10285225
Kosciusko9619119
Hancock8562145
Bartholomew8164157
Warrick7856156
Floyd7781180
Grant7232179
Wayne7160201
Boone6939103
Morgan6746141
Dubois6214118
Marshall6208116
Cass6000109
Dearborn589578
Henry5895109
Noble580787
Jackson508975
Shelby500896
Lawrence4738122
Gibson444593
Clinton441455
Harrison441073
DeKalb439485
Montgomery436390
Whitley406343
Huntington402481
Steuben399759
Miami393169
Jasper387454
Knox375890
Putnam372160
Wabash360683
Ripley346970
Adams345355
Jefferson335785
White331553
Daviess3033100
Wells295181
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay266448
Washington245234
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234431
Starke227958
Fountain220348
Sullivan214343
Owen211658
Fulton202142
Jay200932
Carroll193420
Orange188155
Perry187137
Rush175826
Vermillion174644
Franklin170335
Tipton166146
Parke149316
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120547
Newton113736
Brown104043
Crawford102316
Benton101414
Martin91615
Warren83815
Switzerland8118
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1108146

Reported Deaths: 20122
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1286421460
Cuyahoga1157382208
Hamilton813551248
Montgomery525311041
Summit48395999
Lucas43343818
Butler38951604
Stark33318929
Lorain25658504
Warren24580303
Mahoning22355603
Lake21166387
Clermont20111253
Delaware18841135
Licking16660222
Fairfield16570204
Trumbull16537482
Medina15603271
Greene15272247
Clark14233306
Wood13287198
Portage13242214
Allen11910239
Richland11601211
Miami10843224
Wayne9130222
Columbiana9029230
Muskingum8906135
Pickaway8658122
Tuscarawas8643248
Marion8641138
Erie8056164
Ashtabula7147179
Hancock6996132
Ross6943161
Geauga6834150
Scioto6534105
Belmont6155174
Union584549
Lawrence5726102
Jefferson5675158
Huron5544122
Sandusky5439125
Darke5415129
Seneca5347126
Washington5318109
Athens523660
Auglaize501887
Mercer487385
Shelby476595
Knox4570112
Madison444065
Ashland435597
Putnam4336103
Defiance432298
Fulton432072
Crawford4036110
Brown402461
Logan387577
Preble3848104
Clinton379166
Ottawa373581
Highland359665
Williams348078
Champaign344258
Guernsey324853
Jackson318154
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285450
Hardin274965
Henry273367
Holmes2699101
Coshocton268960
Van Wert247264
Adams243156
Pike242835
Gallia240750
Wyandot234556
Hocking220162
Carroll197148
Paulding176542
Meigs148240
Monroe136344
Noble136039
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85517
Unassigned03
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
79° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 82°
Angola
Clear
° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: °
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
78° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 79°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
79° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 82°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
76° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 76°
Showers and storms are possible Saturday morning, but the chance of rain will stick around all day long.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events