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How Russian Trolls Helped Elect Donald Trump

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A combination of file pictures created on August 22nd, 2018. A concerted Russian hacking and online disinformation campaign in 2016 sought to tip the U.S. presidential election toward Donald Trump.

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller recently re-emphasized, there is no doubt that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election. But was the goal of that interference to elect Donald Trump, or simply to sow discord and drive already-polarized Americans even farther apart?

A new analysis of tweets produced by Russian troll farms suggests the answer is both.

Russia’s state-sponsored Internet Research Agency “made coordinated efforts to drive a wedge between conservatives and liberals,” writes a research team led by Darren Linvill of Clemson University. But the IRA’s efforts in 2016 “went beyond ideological division to include supporting the candidacy of Donald Trump.”

“The IRA accomplished both of these goals by communicating with different ideological groups, and their accompanying social media echo chambers, using different tactics,” the researchers write in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

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