According to a new study published by New York University’s Center for Social Media and Politics, Russian Twitter trolls had no recognizable impact on the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Previous research and government investigations have concluded that Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election was intended to influence voting behavior in favor of GOP nominee Donald Trump, either by shifting support toward Trump himself or by encouraging disaffected liberals often Bernie Sanders voters to vote for a third-party candidate or abstain from voting entirely.
According to the study, only 1 per cent of Twitter users, who were proportionally identified as partisan Republicans by researchers, accounted for 70 per cent of exposures to Russian Twitter trolls. In other words, the primary beneficiaries of such efforts were people who were already planning to vote against Hillary Clinton and in favor of the Republican candidate, Donald Trump.
The researchers also noted that “exposure to the Russian influence campaign was eclipsed by content from domestic news media and politicians.”
According to the NYU study, Russia’s Twitter campaign had no effect because few people saw it. Furthermore, whoever did see the Russian tweets were people who weren’t going to be easily swayed in the first place. “Those who identified as ‘Strong Republicans’ were exposed to roughly nine times as many posts from Russian foreign influence accounts than were those who identified as Democrats or Independents,” the report said.
The sources for this piece include an article in TheIntercept.