The Mueller Report: Russians create fake accounts, fake news, botnets on Facebook, Twitter

The Mueller team established what many had already suspected, that Russian operatives had weaponized Facebook and Twitter, and to a lesser extent other social media platforms, to sway public opinion toward candidate Donald Trump and against candidate Hillary Clinton. IRA specialists created fake accounts on these platforms and pretended to be US citizens and political activists. Twitter bots were designed to amplify the messages of the fake Twitter accounts, and interact with presumably real Twitter accounts to get more views and retweets.

This section is also heavily redacted, suggesting there are still investigations in progress.

***

3. U.S. Operations Through Facebook

Many IRA operations used Facebook accounts created and operated by its specialists. HARM TO ONGOING MATTER.

HARM TO ONGOING MATTER

HARM TO ONGOING MATTER 54 IRA Facebook groups active during the 2016 campaign covered a range of political issues and included purported conservative
– – – – –
FOOTNOTES
54 HARM TO ONGOING MATTER

– – – – –
groups (with names such as “Being Patriotic ,” “Stop All Immigrants,” “Secured Borders,” and “Tea Party News”) , purported Black social justice groups (“Black Matters,” “Blacktivist,” and “Don’t Shoot Us”), LGBTQ groups (“LGBT United”), and religious groups (“United Muslims of America”).

Being Patriotic Facebook ad


Throughout 2016, IRA accounts published an increasing number of materials supporting the Trump Campaign and opposing the Clinton Campaign. For example, on May 31, 2016, the operational account “Matt Skiber” began to privately message dozens of pro-Trump Facebook groups asking them to help plan a “pro-Trump rally near Trump Tower.” 55

To reach larger U.S. audiences, the IRA purchased advertisements from Facebook that promoted the IRA groups on the newsfeeds of U.S. audience members. According to Facebook, the IRA purchased over 3,500 advertisements, and the expenditures totaled approximately $100,000.56

During the U.S. presidential campaign , many IRA-purchased advertisements explicitly supported or opposed a presidential candidate or promoted U.S. rallies organized by the IRA (discussed below). As early as March 2016, the IRA purchased advertisements that overtly opposed the Clinton Campaign. For example, on March 18, 2016, the IRA purchased an advertisement depicting candidate Clinton and a caption that read in part, “If one day God lets this liar enter the White House as a president – that day would be a real national tragedy.” 57 Similarly, on April 6, 2016 , the IRA purchased advertisements for its account “Black Matters” calling for a “flashmob” of U.S. persons to “take a photo with #HillaryClintonForPrison2016 or #nohillary2016.” 58 IRA-purchased advertisements featuring Clinton were, with very few exceptions, negative. 59

IRA-purchased advertisements referencing candidate Trump largely supported his campaign. The first known IRA advertisement explicitly endorsing the Trump Campaign was purchased on April 19, 2016. The IRA bought an advertisement for its Instagram account “Tea Party News” asking U.S. persons to help them “make a patriotic team of young Trump supporters” by uploading photos with the hashtag “#KIDS4TRUMP.” 60 In subsequent months, the IRA purchased dozens of advertisements supporting the Trump Campaign, predominantly through the Facebook groups “Being Patriotic,” “Stop All Invaders ,” and “Secured Borders.”

Secured Borders was one Russian Facebook account designed to influence US voters


– – – – –
FOOTNOTES
55 5/31/16 Facebook Message , ID 100009922908461 (Matt Skiber) to ID [REDACTED – PERSONAL PRIVACY] 5/31/16 Facebook Message,
ID 100009922908461 (Matt Skiber) to ID [REDACTED — PERSONAL PRIVACY]
56
Social Media Influence in the 2016 US Election, Hearing Before the Senate Select Committeeon Intelligence, 115th Cong. 13 (11/1/17) (testimony of Colin Stretch, General Counsel of Facebook).
57 3/18/16 Facebook Advertisement ID 6045505152575.
58 4/6/16 Facebook Advertisement ID 6043740225319.
59 See SM-2230634, serial 213 (documenting politically-oriented advertisements from the larger
set provided by Facebook).
60 4/19/16 Facebook Advertisement ID 6045151094235.

– – – – –
Collectively , the IRA’s social media accounts reached tens of millions of U.S. persons. Individual IRA social media accounts attracted hundreds of thousands of followers. For example, at the time they were deactivated by Facebook in mid-2017, the IRA’s “United Muslims of America” Facebook group had over 300,000 followers , the “Don’t Shoot Us” Facebook group had over 250,000 followers, the “Being Patriotic” Facebook group had over 200,000 followers, and the “Secured Borders” Facebook group had over 130,000 followers.61 According to Facebook, in
total the IRA-controlled accounts made over 80,000 posts before their deactivation in August 2017, and these posts reached at least 29 million U.S persons and “may have reached an estimated 126 million people.” 62

[EDITOR: To put those numbers in perspective, recall that that difference in the popular vote for Clinton and Trump was only about 3 million (Trump’s 62,984,828 to Clinton’s 65,853,514) and “Trump won [the deciding states] Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania by less than 1% of the vote in each state.” The Russian propaganda for Trump and against Clinton undoubtedly influenced many of those voters, and swung the election to Trump.]

4. U.S. Operations Through Twitter

A number of IRA employees assigned to the Translator Department served as Twitter specialists. HARM TO ONGOING MATTER 63

The IRA’s Twitter operations involved two strategies. First, IRA specialists operated certain Twitter accounts to create individual U.S. personas, HARM TO ONGOING MATTER 64 Separately, the IRA operated a network of automated Twitter accounts (commonly referred to as a bot network) that enabled the IRA to amplify existing content on Twitter.

a. Individualized Accounts

HARM TO ONGOING MATTER 65 HARM TO ONGOING MATTER

– – – – –
FOOTNOTES
61 See Facebook ID 1479936895656747 (United Muslims of America); Facebook ID
l157233400960126 (Don’t Shoot); Facebook ID 1601685693432389 Being Patriotic; Facebook ID
757183957716200 Secured Borders). HARM TO ONGOING MATTER
HARM TO ONGOING MATTER
HARM TO ONGOING MATTER
62 Social Media Influence in the 2016 US Election, Hearing Before the Senate Select Committeeon Intelligence, 115th Cong. 13 (11/1/17) (testimony of Colin Stretch, General Counsel of Facebook) .
63 HARM TO ONGOING MATTER
64 HARM TO ONGOING MATTER
65 HARM TO ONGOING MATTER
– – – – –

HARM TO ONGOING MATTER 66

The IRA operated individualized Twitter accounts similar to the operation of its Facebook accounts, by continuously posting original content to the accounts while also communicating with U.S. Twitter users directly (through public tweeting or Twitter’s private messaging).

The IRA used many of these accounts to attempt to influence U.S. audiences on the election. Individualized accounts used to influence the U.S. presidential election included @TEN_GOP ( described above) ; @jenn_abrams (claiming to be a Virginian Trump supporter with 70,000 followers); @Pamela_Moore13 (claiming to be a Texan Trump supporter with 70,000 followers); and @America:__1st_ (an anti-immigration persona with 24,000 followers). 67 In May 2016, the IRA created the Twitter account @march_for_trump, which promoted IRA-organized rallies in support of the Trump Campaign (described below).68

HARM TO ONGOING MATTER

HARM TO ONGOING MATTER 69

Using these accounts and others, the IRA provoked reactions from users and the media. Multiple IRA-posted tweets gained popularity. 70 U.S. media outlets also quoted tweets from IRA-controlled accounts and attributed them to the reactions of real U.S. persons. 71 Similarly, numerous high-
– – – – –
FOOTNOTES
66 Harm to Ongoing Matter
67 Other individualized accounts included @MissouriNewsUS (an account with 3,800 followers
that posted pro-Sanders and anti-Clinton material).
68 See @march_for_trump, 5/30/16 Tweet (first post from account).
69 HARM TO ONGOING MATTER
70 For example, one IRA account tweeted, “To those people, who hate the Confederate flag. Did
you know that the flag and the war wasn’t about slavery , it was all about money.” The tweet received over
40,000 responses. @Jenn_Abrams 4/24/17 (2:37 p.m.) Tweet.
71 Josephine Lukito & Chris Wells,
Most Major Outlets Have Used Russian Tweets as Sources forPartisan Opinion: Study, Columbia Journalism Review (Mar. 8, 2018); see also Twitter Steps Up to Explain#NewYorkValues to Ted Cruz, Washington Post (Jan. 15, 2016) (citing IRA tweet); People Are Slamming the CIA/or Claiming Russia Tried to Help Donald Trump, U.S. News & World Report (Dec. 12, 2016).

– – – – –

profile U.S. persons, including former Ambassador Michael McFaul,72 Roger Stone,73 Sean Hannity, 74 and Michael Flynn Jr.,75 retweeted or responded to tweets posted to these IRA controlled accounts. Multiple individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign also promoted IRA tweets (discussed below).

b. IRA Botnet Activities

HARM TO ONGOING MATTER 76
HARM TO ONGOING MATTER 77
HARM TO ONGOING MATTER 78

In January 2018, Twitter publicly identified 3,814 Twitter accounts associated with the IRA.79 According to Twitter, in the ten weeks before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, these accounts posted approximately 175,993 tweets, “approximately 8.4% of which were election-
– – – – –
FOOTNOTES
72 @Mcfaul 4/30/16 Tweet (responding to tweet by @Jenn_Abrams).
73 @RogerJStoneJr 5/30/16 Tweet (retweeting @Pamela_Moorel3) ; @RogerJStoneJr 4/26/16
Tweet (same).
74 @seanhannity 6/21/17 Tweet (retweeting @Pamela_ Moore 13).
75 @mflynnJR 6/22/17 Tweet (“RT@Jenn_Abrams: This is what happens when you add the voice
over of an old documentary about mental illness onto video of SJWs … “).
76 A botnet refers to a network of private computers or accounts controlled as a group to send
specific automated messages. On the Twitter network, botnets can be used to promote and republish
(“retweet”) specific tweets or hashtags in order for them to gain larger audiences.
77 HARM TO ONGOING MATTER
78 HARM TO ONGOING MATTER
79 Eli Rosenberg , Twitter to Tell 677,000 Users they Were Had by the Russians. Some Signs Show
the Problem Continues, Washington Post (Jan. 19, 2019).

– – – – –

related.” 80 Twitter also announced that it had notified approximately 1.4 million people who Twitter believed may have been in contact with an IRA-controlled account. 81

5. U.S. Operations Involving Political Rallies

EDITOR: This image is part of the Mueller report, p. 31

The IRA organized and promoted political rallies inside the United States while posing as U.S. grassroots activists. First, the IRA used one of its preexisting social media personas
(Facebook groups and Twitter accounts, for example) to announce and promote the event. The IRA then sent a large number of direct messages to followers of its social media account asking
them to attend the event. From those who responded with interest in attending , the IRA then sought a U.S. person to serve as the event’s coordinator. In most cases, the IRA account operator would tell the U.S . person that they personally could not attend the event due to some preexisting conflict or because they were somewhere else in the United States. 82 The IRA then further promoted the event by contacting U.S. media about the event and directing them to speak with the coordinator. 83 After the event, the IRA posted videos and photographs of the event to the IRA’s social media accounts. 84

The Office identified dozens of U.S. rallies organized by the IRA. The earliest evidence of a rally was a “confederate rally” in November 2015. 85 The IRA continued to organize rallies even after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The attendance at rallies varied. Some rallies appear to have drawn few (if any) participants while others drew hundreds The reach and success of these rallies was closely monitored HARM TO ONGOING MATTER
– – – – –
FOOTNOTES
80 Twitter, “Update on Twitter’s Review of the 2016 US Election” (updated Jan. 31, 2018). Twitter
also reported identifying 50,258 automated accounts connected to the Russian government, which tweeted
more than a million times in the ten weeks before the election.
81 Twitter, “Update on Twitter’s Review of the 2016 US Election” (updated Jan. 31, 2018). ..82. 8/2 0/16 Facebook Message, ID 100009922908461 (Matt Skiber) to ID
83 See, e.g., 7/21/16~gmail.com to ; 7/21/16 Email, joshmilton024@gmail.com to- [REDACTED – PERSONAL PRIVACY]
84 @march_for_trump 6/25/16 Tweet (posting photos from rally outside Trump Tower).
85 Instagram ID 2228012168 (Stand For Freedom) 11/3/15 Post (“Good evening buds! Well I amplanning to organize a confederate rally[ . . . ] in Houston on the 14 of November and I want more people
to attend.”).

– – – – –

[EDITOR: All of page 30 is redacted HARM TO ONGOING MATTER]

From June 2016 until the end of the presidential campaign, almost all of the U.S. rallies organized by the IRA focused on the U.S. election, often promoting the Trump Campaign and opposing the Clinton Campaign. Pro-Trump rallies included three in New York; a series of pro-Trump rallies in Florida in August 2016; and a series of pro-Trump rallies in October 2016 in Pennsylvania. The Florida rallies drew the attention of the Trump Campaign, which posted about the Miami rally on candidate Trump’s Facebook account (as discussed below).86

Many of the same IRA employees who oversaw the IRA’s social media accounts also conducted the day-to-day recruiting for political rallies inside the United States. HARM TO ONGOING MATTER 87

NEXT: Targeting of US persons and Interactions and contacts with the Trump campaign

– – – – –
FOOTNOTES
86 HARM TO ONGOING MATTER
87 HARM TO ONGOING MATTER

———–


Donate with cryptocurrencies

Possibly Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

WP Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com