With the hearing on Capitol Hill over the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election, Facebook and YouTube have disclosed that the influence was far greater than they admitted. Reports by both the Washington Post and Recode say that Facebook's Tuesday testimony will reveal that 126 million people were exposed to Russian operations on its site throughout the Presidential election year of 2016.
While Facebook's previous statements only acknowledged that Russia used the reach of paid advertisements, the combination of leaked statements and official blogs confirms the new larger number of 126 million is due to the counting of non-ad operations conducted by Internet Research Agency which is essentially a disinformation organization for Russian money looking to hire them for their own agenda. The Internet Research Agency has even garnered the nickname "Trolls from Olgino" since it's purpose is common knowledge. The reports say that the "troll farm" posted 80,000 times between 2015 and 2017, the result? An astonishing 29 million direct appearances on Facebook news feeds, and by Facebook's own measure the campaign's total reach is made between 87 and 126 million impressions, more than enough reach to sway a measurable portion of voters.
<img src="https://media.8ch.net/file_store/36da059ade4992fe34ff263a11923cfc38e04b023abfd45aaf578bd6fcfd0c84.jpg" style="max-height:640px;max-width:360px;">
<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Credit: Kent Walker/ Google</span>
YouTube had some statistics to release of their own in a report published by Google on Monday. The report admits the spread of Russian disinformation on YouTube of around 1,108 videos, all in all a total of 43 hours of video from 18 different channels the company claims is "likely associated" with the good 'ole boys at the Internet Research Agency. Google says the YouTube videos were posted in English with what they call "content that appeared to be political" hidden among non-political content like blogs.
The total number of views measured between June 2016 and November 2016 from these Internet Research Agency channels were 309,000. Google did not reveal which channels they were or name any of the content in question.
The bigger picture here reveals a disinformation campaign that extends far beyond the reach of simple paid advertisements and constitutes an organized, concentrated effort to disrupt democracy in America.
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