The IRA, Social Media and Political Polarization in the United States, 2012-2018

Philip N. Howard, Bharath Ganesh, Dimitra Liotsiou, John Kelly, Camille François

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Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) launched an extended attack on the United States by using computational propaganda to misinform and polarize US voters. This report provides the first major analysis of this attack based on data provided by social media firms to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI).

This analysis answers several key questions about the activities of the known IRA accounts. In this analysis, we investigate how the IRA exploited the tools and platform of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube 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 US voters with particular messages.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford, UK
PublisherProject on Computational Propaganda
Commissioning bodyUnited States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Number of pages47
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • social media
  • propaganda
  • Russia
  • 2016 US Election
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • social media manipulation
  • political communication

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