Four years after Russia-linked groups stoked divisions in the U.S. presidential election on social media platforms, a new report shows that Moscow’s campaign hasn’t let up and has become harder to detect.
The report from University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Young Mie Kim found that Russia-linked social media accounts are posting about the same divisive issues — race relations, gun laws and immigration — as they did in 2016, when the Kremlin polluted American voters’ feeds with messages about the presidential election.
Since then, however, the Russians have grown better at imitating U.S. campaigns and political fan pages online, said Kim, who analyzed thousands of posts. She studied more than 5 million Facebook ads during the 2016 election, identifying Russia’s fingerprints on some of the messages through an ad-tracking app installed on volunteers’ computers. Her review is co-published by the Brennan Center for Justice, a law and policy institute, where she is a scholar.
The recent improvements make it harder for voters and social media platforms to identify the foreign interference, Kim said.