Earlier this week, two reports prepared for the bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded that Russia launched an extended attack on the U.S. by utilizing computational propaganda to misinform, divide and polarize American voters. The operation was sophisticated and it was carried out by Russia's Internet Research Agency (IRA) with the aim of suppressing votes for Hillary Clinton and aiding Donald Trump. The IRA is based in Saint Petersburg and is also known as the Russian government's "troll factory". The organization is known to engage in online influence operations on behalf of Russian political and business interests.
One of the two teports was led by experts from Oxford University
and it concluded that disinformation campaigns conducted by the IRA across major social networks reached tens of millions of U.S. voters. The following infographic is based on its findings and it shows the monthly average volume of posts across major social networks between 2015 and 2017. Over that period of time, more than 50,000 spurious tweets were noted on average per month, along with a steady volume of posts including ads on Facebook
. Activity increased drastically in the six month period after the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. with the number of Instagram posts skyrocketing 238 percent. The number of Facebook posts and tweets also went up by 59 and 52 percent respectively.