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Thread: Russian interference with the 2016 election

  1. #21
    Must...have...caffeine One Bad Pig's Avatar
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    This NYT article seems material:

    Source: Fake News and Bots May Be Worrisome, but Their Political Power Is Overblown

    How easy is it to change people’s votes in an election?

    The answer, a growing number of studies conclude, is that most forms of political persuasion seem to have little effect at all.

    This conclusion may sound jarring at a time when people are concerned about the effects of the false news articles that flooded Facebook and other online outlets during the 2016 election. Observers speculated that these so-called fake news articles swung the election to Donald J. Trump. Similar suggestions of large persuasion effects, supposedly pushing Mr. Trump to victory, have been made about online advertising from the firm Cambridge Analytica and content promoted by Russian bots.

    Much more remains to be learned about the effects of these types of online activities, but people should not assume they had huge effects. Previous studies have found, for instance, that the effects of even television advertising (arguably a higher-impact medium) are very small. According to one credible estimate, the net effect of exposure to an additional ad shifts the partisan vote of approximately two people out of 10,000.

    In fact, a recent meta-analysis of numerous different forms of campaign persuasion, including in-person canvassing and mail, finds that their average effect in general elections is zero.

    Field experiments testing the effects of online ads on political candidates and issues have also found null effects. We shouldn’t be surprised — it’s hard to change people’s minds! Their votes are shaped by fundamental factors like which party they typically support and how they view the state of the economy. “Fake news” and bots are likely to have vastly smaller effects, especially given how polarized our politics have become.

    Here’s what you should look for in evaluating claims about vast persuasion effects from dubious online content:

    How many people actually saw the questionable material. Many alarming statistics have been produced since the election about how many times “fake news” was shared on Facebook or how many times Russian bots retweeted content on Twitter. These statistics obscure the fact that the content being shared may not reach many Americans (most people are not on Twitter and consume relatively little political news) or even many humans (many bot followers may themselves be bots).

    Whether the people being exposed are persuadable. Dubious political content online is disproportionately likely to reach heavy news consumers who already have strong opinions. For instance, a study I conducted with Andrew Guess of Princeton and Jason Reifler of the University of Exeter in Britain showed that exposure to fake news websites before the 2016 election was heavily concentrated among the 10 percent of Americans with the most conservative information diets — not exactly swing voters.

    The proportion of news people saw that is bogus. The total number of shares or likes that fake news and bots attract can sound enormous until you consider how much information circulates online. Twitter, for instance, reported that Russian bots tweeted 2.1 million times before the election — certainly a worrisome number. But these represented only 1 percent of all election-related tweets and 0.5 percent of views of election-related tweets.

    © Copyright Original Source



    So does this one from WaPo:

    Source: Russia used mainstream media to manipulate American voters


    Russia’s disinformation campaign during the 2016 presidential election relied heavily on stories produced by major American news sources to shape the online political debate, according to an analysis published Thursday.

    The analysis by Columbia University social-media researcher Jonathan Albright of more than 36,000 tweets sent by Russian accounts showed that obscure or foreign news sources played a comparatively minor role, suggesting that the discussion of “fake news” during the campaign has been somewhat miscast.

    Albright’s research, which he said is the most extensive to date on the news links that Russians used to manipulate the American political conversation on Twitter, bolsters observations by other analysts. Clinton Watts, a former FBI agent who is now a disinformation expert at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, said that by linking to popular news sources, the Russians enhanced the credibility of their Twitter accounts, making it easier to manipulate audiences.

    “The Kremlin, they don’t need to create a false narrative. It’s already there,” he said. “You’re just taking a narrative and elevating it.”

    Some well-chronicled hoaxes reached large audiences. But Russian-controlled Twitter accounts, Albright said, were far more likely to share stories produced by widely read sources of American news and political commentary. The stories themselves were generally factually accurate, but the Russian accounts carefully curated the overall flow to highlight themes and developments that bolstered Republican Donald Trump and undermined his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

    Among the tweets Albright studied, the most common links were to Breitbart News, followed by The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle.

    © Copyright Original Source



    Upshot: Fake news from Russian bots played a minor part in something that probably didn't have much effect anyway.

    MM may or may not appreciate Breitbart being characterized as 'mainstream'.
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  2. #22
    tWebber Mountain Man's Avatar
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    So when are we going to bring indictments against members of the liberal media for their undisguised attempts to influence voters against Trump?

  3. #23
    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    My thinking is that most of this fake news crap might be coming from Russia, but not from hackers, but just Russian scammers, regular citizens that want to make money by creating sensationalist stories that people pass along on facebook and twitter and contain tons of ads that they get paid for. It isn't some nefarious KGB plot. And there are such scammers in many countries, including the USA. Heck, half of facebook is people sharing such garbage about any number of topics, from politics to stories about aliens or the dangers of eating meat, to quizzes about what your favorite food is. It's all about numbers of views and numbers of ads served. Advertisers not only pay so much per click-thru but just for displaying the ads.

  4. #24
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Apparently, Mueller's investigation has now handed down indictments against 13 Russian individuals and three Russian companies for interfering in the 2016 election, beginning as early as 2014. They were apparently funded to the tune of $1m/month to target swing districts, and emphasize support for Sanders/Trump and against Rubio/Cruz/Clinton. More details here.
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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Apparently, Mueller's investigation has now handed down indictments against 13 Russian individuals and three Russian companies for interfering in the 2016 election, beginning as early as 2014. They were apparently funded to the tune of $1m/month to target swing districts, and emphasize support for Sanders/Trump and against Rubio/Cruz/Clinton. More details here.
    Thread here:

    http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/sh...ts-16-russians

  6. #26
    radical strawberry
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    This NYT article seems material:
    Readers should note this story was included in the list cited in post #2:

    Quote Originally Posted by lao tzu View Post
    Alternatively, current and historical reporting is available at:

    Russian Hacking and Influence in the U.S. Election
    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    Upshot: Fake news from Russian bots played a minor part in something that probably didn't have much effect anyway.
    Probably.

    MM may or may not appreciate Breitbart being characterized as 'mainstream'.
    Not precisely true. "Russia used mainstream media to manipulate American voters" doesn't imply all of the outlets cited were mainstream.

  7. #27
    radical strawberry
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    Hmm ... I'd prefer the threads were merged, but I don't want to relax my civility rules, so I'll be posting my comments on this issue here.

  8. #28
    radical strawberry
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    Russian troll farm, 13 suspects indicted for interference in U.S. election

    Independent of the success of their efforts, the indictments against them are useful in pushing back against the suggestion we should not be concerned. Foreign actors actively engaged in undermining our elections need to be held to account.

    Notably, the troll farm, run out of St. Petersburg, was financed by ...

    One of those indicted is Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, who has long been identified in the Russian media as the financial backer of the Internet Research Agency. He is a caterer who has been nicknamed “Putin’s chef” because of his close ties to the Russian president. Concord Consulting and Concord Catering, two Russian businesses also charged by Mueller’s team Friday, have previously been identified as Prigozhin vehicles.

    I think it's fair to say this effort could not have been undertaken without Putin's agreement, even without further evidence that it was undertaken at his direction.

    In the TimesEvent cited in the o/p, there was a reference by a panelist to over a 100 million impressions, which I recall from testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but was loathe to look up for reference due to time constraints.

    Overall, Facebook acknowledged to Congress that the Internet Research Agency had bought 3,000 ads on its platform that reached 11.4 million users. The agency’s employees also reportedly made many free posts that reached 126 million users. In addition to polarizing online political conversation, Facebook reported that the Internet Research Agency used Facebook pages to organize 129 real-world events that drew the attention of nearly 340,000 Facebook users.

    ...

    Twitter has acknowledged finding 3,814 accounts linked to the IRA, which together posted some 176,000 tweets in the 10 weeks preceding the election. The company also found 50,258 automated accounts it said were connected to the Russian government and tweeted more than a million times.

    While we still don't know how many votes were changed, or perhaps more importantly, how many voters leaning toward Trump were induced to show up at the polls, the reach was sufficient to make a difference in an election that hinged on 70,000 votes. Whether it made a difference is a different question.

  9. #29
    radical strawberry
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    My thinking is that most of this fake news crap might be coming from Russia, but not from hackers, but just Russian scammers, regular citizens that want to make money by creating sensationalist stories that people pass along on facebook and twitter and contain tons of ads that they get paid for. It isn't some nefarious KGB plot. And there are such scammers in many countries, including the USA. Heck, half of facebook is people sharing such garbage about any number of topics, from politics to stories about aliens or the dangers of eating meat, to quizzes about what your favorite food is. It's all about numbers of views and numbers of ads served. Advertisers not only pay so much per click-thru but just for displaying the ads.
    Today's news contradicts this thesis.

  10. #30
    Must...have...caffeine One Bad Pig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lao tzu View Post
    While we still don't know how many votes were changed, or perhaps more importantly, how many voters leaning toward Trump were induced to show up at the polls, the reach was sufficient to make a difference in an election that hinged on 70,000 votes. Whether it made a difference is a different question.
    Your concluding assertions would appear to be directly at odds with the NYT article I posted earlier. Another tidbit which may be pertinent from the articles in my earlier post is that efforts were made to boost both Sanders and Trump. This may have been more an anti-Hillary push than anything pro-Trump per se, which would make sense in light of the fact that Putin didn't much appreciate the Hillary State Department attempting to help push him out of office.
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