Republican Party Led Senate Panel Affirms Russia Attacked Election to Improve Trump’s Election Chances and Urges Action!

Dear Commons Community,

The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee reaffirmed yesterday that Russian operatives engaged in a widespread social media campaign to improve Donald Trump’s chances in the race.  As reported by The New York Times.

“The committee backed up the conclusions of the intelligence community, the special counsel and researchers that Russia mounted a broad campaign to interfere in the election. A Russian troll farm central to the election campaign supported “Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin,” the committee said.

The panel said Congress should consider new disclosure requirements for political ads online, which unlike television or radio ads do not need to carry information about who paid for them. A bill introduced in 2017 by the top Democrat on the committee, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, to put into effect new rules for online ads has failed to gain much momentum.

The report is nonetheless the latest call for lawmakers to reconsider the lax system of regulations that governs Silicon Valley, as Americans have learned more about the way platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can be used to make money off users’ personal information and to spread disinformation…

…“The committee recommends that the executive branch should, in the run-up to the 2020 election, reinforce with the public the danger of attempted foreign interference in the 2020 election,” the panel said.

But Mr. Trump has long tried to play down or deny Russia’s role in the 2016 election. On a call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that is at the core of the impeachment inquiry, Mr. Trump suggested that Ukraine might have played a part in efforts to sway the race.

That conspiracy theory runs counter to the conclusion yesterday by the Intelligence Committee: Operatives at the Russian troll farm, the Internet Research Agency, used a wide range of online platforms to share content they felt could drive a wedge through the American electorate to influence the presidential election.

“The bipartisan work that this committee has done to uncover and detail the extent of that effort has significantly advanced the public’s understanding of how, in 2016, Russia took advantage of our openness and innovation, exploiting American-bred social media platforms to spread disinformation, divide the public and undermine our democracy,” Mr. Warner said in a statement.

Russian operatives running the campaign used a wide variety of platforms, from giants like Facebook and Instagram to smaller players like LiveJournal, a once-popular American blogging service now owned by a Russian firm.

The committee’s report backed the conclusion of outside researchers that African-Americans had been a significant target of Russia’s persuasion efforts. Its report said the “committee found that no single group of Americans was targeted by I.R.A. information operatives more than African-Americans.”

It also highlighted that Russian activity had actually increased after Election Day 2016. Internet Research Agency activity went up 59 percent on Facebook, 238 percent on its subsidiary Instagram, 84 percent on YouTube and 52 percent on Twitter after the election, it said.

“Russia is waging an information warfare campaign against the U.S. that didn’t start and didn’t end with the 2016 election,” said Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the committee.”

It would be good if the leadership of the Republican Party, namely Mitch McConnell, took this committee’s report seriously.



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