FiveThirtyEight Oliver Roeder reviews a new academic paper from two professors at Clemson analyzing the tweets which were part of the Russian election interference. The findings are impressive, but I worry that real headline is buried at the end of the article:
Russia’s attempts to distract, divide, and demoralize has been called a form of political war,” the authors conclude in their paper. “This analysis has given insight into the methods the IRA used to engage in this war.” This war may or may not have had an effect on the 2016 election, but it certainly wreaked havoc. The man who would be named national security adviser followed and pushed the message of Russian troll accounts, according to the Daily Beast, and Trump’s eldest son, campaign manager and digital director each retweeted a Russian troll in the month before the election. Twitter itself informed 1.4 million people that they’d interacted with Russian trolls.
But the researchers emphasized that the Russian disinformation and discord campaign on Twitter extends well beyond even that. “There were more tweets in the year after the election than there were in the year before the election,” Warren said. “I want to shout this from the rooftops. This is not just an election thing. It’s a continuing intervention in the political conversation in America.”