Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

The Tactics and Tropes of the Internet Research Agency | United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

Just because they say it is so doesn’t make it so.

I have real heartburn about the Washington Post report by Paul Waldman.  There are far too many leaps in logic in his conclusion that the Trump Campaign worked in coordination with or in collusion with Russia.  Two things leap out at me.  

One, 

They’d like to see a document titled “Plan For Collusion Between Russia and Trump Campaign” that lays out in specific detail what both parties would do and is signed at the bottom by Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

There is no such document, nor can a link be established that Russia worked for Trump’s campaign, nor can it be established that anyone worked on behalf of Russia during the election. 

Second, 

Even when we see Trump implore Russia on national television to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails and learn that they obeyed the instruction within hours, it somehow isn’t enough.

The inference that Trump’s obvious joke, taken way out of context, still does not establish that Russia hacked Hillary’s emails – and they still haven’t. Cozy Bear and Fuzzy Bear did hack the DNC, but not Hillary’s private server. Furthermore, hacking just does not work that way.

The inference, the allegation, the linkage between Trump’s campaign and Russia is almost laughable. Right now this is a “trial by the press” which lacks evidence and facts. 

I have not commented on this Trump-Russian Collusion investigation previously because I firmly believe it is a politically motivated action.  Mueller is investigating Trump in search of a crime, not “we have evidence of a crime, so it must be investigated.” Over 18 months later we only have projections, not facts.

Furthermore, I believe this circus is trial by the press.  Sure, Congress can impeach on what they have, based on hearsay, allegations, and inference, but there is simply no evidence.

These allegations are the foundation of the argument for Trump’s impeachment. The problem is, there is no substance, there is no meat on the bones, there is only “resist”.

</end editorial>



If the intent of “Making Russia Great Again” was to virally saturate the headlines, the Russian campaign to meddle in US politics certainly achieved that this week, and it could not have come at a worse time for Russia with developments in Europe, especially Ukraine.

To those of us intimate with Cold War era Soviet revolutionary warfare doctrine, nothing in these reports is really surprising – this is the classic Soviet playbook accelerated 1,000 fold by the use of digital technology and the W3 medium, especially social media.

When Winn Schwartau and other early InfoWar researchers predicted during the 1990s the potential for such campaigns and resulting outcomes, they were individually and collectively labeled with every derogatory name known to man, dismissed as crackpots, and stubbornly ignored.

Who are the crackpots, fools, and buffoons now?


Disinformation Report: An Investigation into IRA Activities in 2016 | New Knowledge

In late 2017, tech companies turned over a data set containing IRA activity to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. This is New Knowledge’s analysis.

Election 2016 – Download the whitepaper

Election 2016 – Download the slide deck

The Most Extraordinary Lesson of Two New Reports on Russian Disinformation: What They Reveal About White House Paralysis | Just Security

The Senate Intelligence Committee has just released two new reports on Russian disinformation, revealing in unusually rich detail the scope of

‘Wake-up call’: Lawmakers react to reports detailing Russia’s influence campaign

Lawmakers responded Monday to reports providing intricate details of Russia’s efforts to suppress minority voters through social media disinformation.

Opinion | What We Now Know About Russian Disinformation – The New York Times

The Senate gave my research team data from social media companies. The picture that emerges is grim.

Russia’s election propaganda agency functioned pretty much like a normal marketing firm | Salon.com

Russia’s propaganda campaign followed the normal Western PR and marketing firm playbook

Russian Troll Farms Are Still Using Social Media To Meddle In U.S Politics | HuffPost

The campaign didn’t end with Trump’s ascent to the White House.

Russia social media influence efforts ongoing, report says

New report on Russian disinformation, prepared for the Senate, shows the operation’s scale and sweep – The Washington Post

The report, a draft of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is the first to study the millions of posts provided by major technology firms to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Washington Post: Senate Report Details Vast Russian Meddling Campaign

The U.S. Senate is preparing to publish a report this week documenting the enormous breadth of a Russian disinformation campaign that sought to help President Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential…

New report on Russian disinformation, prepared for the Senate, shows the operation’s scale and sweep – Los Angeles Times

A report prepared for the Senate that provides the most sweeping analysis yet of Russia’s disinformation campaign around the 2016 election found that the operation used every major social media platform to deliver words, images and videos tailored to voters’ interests to help elect President Trump.

The Senate Released A Report Outlining Russia’s “Propaganda War” On US Social Media

Outside researchers provide the deepest look yet at Russian efforts to influence American politics in reports released by the Senate Intelligence Committee Monday.

Report Prepared For Senate Shows Scale Of Russia Disinformation Larger Than Expected – Talking Points Memo

New report prepared for Senate on Russian disinformation shows operation’s scale and sweep – U.S. – Stripes

The report is the first to study the millions of posts provided by major technology firms to the Senate Intelligence Committee. The bipartisan panel hasn’t said if it endorses the findings. The panel plans to release it publicly along with another study later this week.

Reports show Russia mounted sweeping effort to sow divisions, support Trump – POLITICO

Russia’s campaigns heavily favored Trump, the report says.

Shocking scale of Russia’s sinister social media campaign against US revealed | Fox News

Russia’s influence campaign during the 2016 presidential election was a sophisticated and multifaceted effort to target the African-American community and sow political division among the public across social media platforms, according to new reports produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senate-commissioned reports show scale of Russian misinformation campaign – Axios

“This should stand as a wake-up call to us all that none of us are immune from this threat.”

New reports detail sophistication of Russian influence efforts in U.S. – CBS News

Two new analyses this week portray a sprawling, multifaceted operation affecting millions of users in the U.S. and persisting long after the 2016 presidential election

Russia used all major social media platforms to aid Trump: report | USA News | Al Jazeera

Two new reports say Russian disinformation campaign on US social media is much more far-reaching than initially thought.

Russia used social media for widespread meddling in U.S. politics: reports | Reuters

Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on social media was more widespread than previously thought and included attempts to divide Americans by race and extreme ideology, said reports by private experts released on Monday by U.S. senators from both parties.

Key takeaways from new reports on Russian disinformation

Russians seeking to influence U.S. elections through social media had their eyes on Instagram and the black community. These were among the findings in two reports released Monday by the Senate intelligence committee. Separate studies from University of Oxford researchers and the cybersecurity firm New Knowledge reveal insights into how Russian agents sought to influence Americans by saturating their favorite online services and apps with hidden propaganda. Here are the highlights: INSTAGRAM’S “MEME WARFARE”

Russia and 2016: Troll group sought to recruit ‘assets’ through social media, Senate told – CNN

The Senate Intelligence Committee is set to release two reports on Monday detailing the breadth of the Russian social media campaign to sow discord in the United States.

Russian 2016 Influence Operation Targeted African-Americans on Social Media – The New York Times

Two reports commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee take a deeper look at the fake social media accounts used by Russia in the American election.

Social Media’s Forever War – The New York Times

New Senate reports show that the Russian influence campaign for the 2016 election ushered in a new era of extended conflict.

Clapper: ‘Gratifying’ to read Senate reports confirming early findings on Russian misinformation – CNNPolitics

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Monday that it was “gratifying” to read two Senate Intelligence Committee reports on the scope of Russian misinformation campaigns, because they reiterated the intelligence community’s 2017 report first confirming Kremlin-linked meddling.

Russia’s support for Trump’s election is no longer disputable – The Washington Post

Senate reports put to rest the argument of whether the Kremlin came to the aid of Mr. Trump in 2016.

New reports show Russia’s political influence campaign on social media targeted black voters — and the NAACP is now calling for a boycott of Facebook and Instagram | Business Insider

New reports on Russia’s political disinformation campaigns across social media platforms concluded that black Americans were specifically targeted with posts on Facebook and Instagram.

Russian hackers tried to disenfranchise black voters to help Trump during 2016 presidential election – NY Daily News

Russian operatives aggressively targeted African-Americans over social media during the 2016 election and tried to discourage them from voting in an effort to help President Trump win the White House, according to two reports released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday.

Russian propagandists targeted African Americans to influence 2016 US election | US news | The Guardian

Operatives used social media to suppress votes for Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump, new research finds

NY Times bombshell: Russian trolls extensively targeted black Americans — and tried to suppress Democratic turnout | Alternet

“The Russian influence campaign on social media in the 2016 election made an extraordinary effort to target African-Americans.” A bombshell New York Times report reveals the Russian troll operation on social media platforms was far more extensive than first understood. One major aspect of a report prepared for the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee finds Russia “extensively” and “specifically” targeted Black Americans.

Silicon Valley may have done ‘bare minimum’ to help Russia investigation, Senate Intel Committee told – CNNPolitics

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.

Tech Companies Dragged Feet on Russian Interference Data, Reports Say – The New York Times

In reports to the Senate on Russian interference, Google, Twitter and Facebook were criticized for their disinclination to reveal details.

Social media platforms bungled their response to fake Russian accounts, new reports show – ThinkProgress

Russia had more influence with social media posts than ads

Facebook and Twitter first disclosed Russian-bought ads last fall, revealing posts paid for in rubles and ratcheting up the number of users who saw the advertisements in the months that followed.

A New Report Shows That Facebook and Instagram Posts From Russian Intelligence Doubled After Trump Won – Mother Jones

Russian trolls have actually received more engagement on Instagram than on Facebook

Official site of The Week Magazine, offering commentary and analysis of the day’s breaking news and current events as well as arts, entertainment, people and gossip, and political cartoons.

Instagram Called Bigger Russia Influence Tool Than Facebook – Bloomberg

Facebook Inc.’s Instagram played a much bigger role in Russia’s manipulation of U.S. voters than the company has previously discussed, and will be a key Russian tool in the 2020 elections, according to a report commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Russian influencers thrived on Instagram after pressure on Facebook, Twitter – CNET

Senate report says Russia’s disinformation campaign will start moving to smaller platforms, where it’s found more success.

Jonathan Albright on the new Senate report, and the importance of Instagram to Russian disinformation – Columbia Journalism Review

Russian election-meddling used YouTube, Instagram, more than previously thought, Senate Intel report says

A comprehensive study compiled for the Senate describing, with new details, Russian efforts to support President Trump’s 2016 campaign and administration is set to be released this week.

Facebook, Twitter, Google: Russia bought 2016 election ads with rubles — Quartz

The report lambasted Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s “belated and uncoordinated response” to Russia’s attack on the 2016 election.

How Russian Trolls Used Meme Warfare To Divide America – To Inform is to Influence

When examing Russian information warfare, it is important to not look at just one facet without at least acknowledging other aspects of information warfare which contribute to, echo, amplify, and reinforce what any one aspect of Russian information warfare is saying. It is important to at least acknowledge Russian trolls have a wide variety of tools, including, but not limited to tweets, postings on Facebook, and Instagram. At the same time, the Russian leadership, including the Kremlin, the Foreign Ministry, and the Duma, are making similar, reinforcing assertions, allegations, and declarations in official statements. These same statements, no matter how outlandish, must be carried in the official Russian press and state-controlled media. Expect denials, red herring distractions, obfuscation, fabricated evidence, and outlandish alternative Russian realities from every aspect, tool, and useful idiot wittingly or unwittingly working in coordination with Russian information warfare. All these swarm around Russian hybrid warfare designed to enhance a weak state fighting a war of thresholds, designed to hit adversaries just below the level where the West must respond. The only problem is the West is finally aware of what a relatively weakened Russia is attempting on the world stage and the West has reached its limit. Enjoy this well researched and timely article. </end editorial

How Russian Trolls Used Meme Warfare to Divide America | WIRED

A new report for the Senate exposes how the IRA used every major social media platform to target voters before and after the 2016 election.

Report finds Russian disinformation campaign targeted Mueller | TheHill

Russia’s online disinformation campaign targeted special counsel Robert Mueller on multiple social media platforms, posting messages that sought to frame Mueller as corrupt and untrustworthy,

Russian disinformation teams targeted Robert S. Mueller III, says report prepared for Senate – The Washington Post

The operatives unloaded on the special counsel via fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and beyond.

Special counsel Mueller was a target of Russia’s disinformation campaign, according to a report prepared for the Senate | Business Insider

A pair of reports prepared for the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence detail the extent of “Russian influence operations” on social media – including posts trying to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The ‘Global Cybercrime Problem’ Is Actually the ‘Russia Problem’ – To Inform is to Influence

Convincing Putin that further attacks will trigger automatic, severe responses is the best path to deterrence. 6:00 AM ET John P. Carlin Chair of the Aspen Institute’s Cyber & Technology Program A series of explosive Department of Justice filings—outside the special counsel’s probe—makes clear that Russia is a rogue state in cyberspace. Now the United States needs a credible system to take action, and to sanction Russia for its misdeeds. Consider what we learned from last month’s criminal charges filed by the Department of Justice against the “chief accountant” for Russia’s so-called troll factory, the online-information influence operations conducted by the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg. The indictment showed how Russia, frather than being chastened by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s detailed February indictment laying out its criminal activities, continued to spread online propaganda about that very indictment, tweeting and posting about Mueller’s charges both positively and negatively—to spread and exacerbate America’s political discord. Defense Secretary James Mattis later told the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, that Vladimir Putin “tried again to muck around in our elections this last month, and we are seeing a continued effort along those lines.” In October, a 37-page criminal complaint filed against Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, who is alleged to have participated in “Project Lakhta,” a Russian-oligarch-funded effort to deploy online memes and postings to stoke political controversy, came along with a similar warning, from the director of national intelligence. Those charges came in the wake of coordinated charges filed this fall by U.K., Dutch, and U.S. officials against Russia and its intelligence officers for a criminal scheme to target anti-doping agencies, officials, and even clean athletes around the world in retaliation for Russia’s doping scandal and in an apparent effort to intimidate those charged with holding Russia to a level playing field. There’s also new evidence that Russia has been interfering in other foreign issues, such as a recent referendum in Macedonia aimed at easing that country’s acceptance into Europe.

Russia Is the Biggest Backer of Cybercrime. The US Must Get Serious About Deterrence – Defense One

Convincing Putin that further attacks will trigger automatic, severe responses is the best way to start.

Russian election meddlers started an anti-masturbation hotline, report claims – The Verge

A report prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee claims that the Russia-linked Internet Research Agency (IRA) used sexual help hotlines to gather blackmail material.

Yes, there was ‘collusion.’ Now what should we do about it? – The Washington Post

The future president and a hostile foreign power, working for the same goal in the same ways.

Russia using ‘hardcore propaganda’ against UK, warns top diplomat – To Inform is to Influence

There is much more to Russian information warfare than Russian trolls. According to this article, there is overwhelming propaganda. This is amplified by Russian proxy websites, Russian trolls, tweets, Facebook posts, useful idiots, talking heads, and naive users. This is further enabled by Russian Secret Services, the SVR, GRU, and the FSB. Russian leaders consistently deny responsibility for any action in which they are involved, withhold evidence, produce fake and fabricated evidence, blameshift, and consistently claim that the West is at fault. Russian aggression in the information environment has caused many countries in Europe to work together to counter almost overwhelming Russian information warfare aggression and hybrid war. Here is an example of Latvia and the UK cooperating on a very professional basis. The results of Russian aggression is, more than likely, not what Russia had intended. The threshold which Russia gauged Western reaction did not account for the accumulative effects building and causing widespread high-level resistance to Russian aggression. Couple Russian information warfare with the Hybrid and Political warfare they are waging against the West in almost every aspect of government and the commercial world. As a result, many believe Russia has committed state-level suicide. The sanctions against Russia, alone, are strangling the Russian economy. Russia has few friends and that shallow puddle is quickly drying up. The oligarchs in Russia, in the meantime, are quietly stashing their billions, siphoned off the Russian economy, in offshore banks, real estate, and shady funds in preparation for their departure. Russia is a kleptocracy, a rogue nation, and the long-term negative effects on Russia and the world are likely incalculable. </end editorial>

Russia using ‘hardcore propaganda’ against UK, warns top diplomat

Latvia has warned that Russia is using media disinformation within the EU, as Ofcom investigates two programmes.

Another meddling victim: Russia accused of interfering in Moldova elections | UNIAN

In Chisinau, the report was declassified of the Investigation  Commission probing the circumstances of the interference by the Open Dialogue Foundation and its founder, Russian citizen Lyudmila Kozlovskaya, in the country’s internal affairs by financing Moldovan political parties. A Russian national has financed Moldovan political parties via her Foundation.

Twin Russiagate Reports Raise More Questions Than Answers – Sputnik International

On Monday, the US Senate issued reports it claims provide damning evidence and details of how Russia influenced the 2016 US elections via social media. However, the reports leave many key questions begging to be answered and essential details behind its sweeping allegations to be explained.

FBI, CIA Officials Reportedly Doubt Major Allegations of Trump-Russia Collusion – Sputnik International

Moscow has repeatedly denied allegations of interfering in the 2016 US presidential vote, saying they were invented to excuse the election loss of the other presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, as well as to deflect public opinion from actual instances of electoral fraud, corruption and other pressing issues.