Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) launched an extended attack on
the United States by using
to misinform and polarize US voters.
We investigate how the IRA exploited the tools and platform of
to impact US users.
We identify which aspects of the IRA’s campaign strategy got the
most traction on social media
and the means of microtargeting
with particular messages.
Russia’s IRA activities were designed to polarize the US public
and interfere in elections by:
campaign for African American voters to boycott elections or follow the wrong voting
procedures in 2016, and more recently for Mexican American and Hispanic voters to
distrust US institutions;
encourage extreme right-wing voters to be more confrontational; and
spreading sensationalist, conspiratorial, and other forms of junk political news and
misinformation to voters across the political spectrum.
Engagement rates increased and covered a widening range of
public policy issues,
national security issues, and
issues pertinent to younger voters.
The highest peak of IRA ad volume on Facebook is in April 2017—the month of the
Syrian missile strike,
the use of the Mother of All Bombs on ISIS tunnels in eastern
the release of the tax reform plan.
IRA posts on Instagram and Facebook
increased substantially after the election, with Instagram seeing
the greatest increase in IRA activity.
The IRA accounts actively engage with disinformation and practices common to
Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA)
targeted US voters for misinformation in 2012,
with the techniques it had deployed on its own citizens
and those of neighboring countries
in Eastern Europe.