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Two groups of independent researchers found that Russia employed thousands of botnets, human internet “trolls” and networks of Web sites and social media accounts to inject false content into online political talk and amplify posts from right-wing sites.
“They want to essentially erode faith in the U.S. government or U.S. government interests,” said Clint Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute who co-authored a report about Russian propaganda. “This was their standard mode during the Cold War. The problem is that this was hard to do before social media.”
A similar report from PropOrNot, provided to the Post, identifies more than 200 websites that routinely pushed Russian propaganda to at least 15 million Americans, and found that false stories pushed on Facebook were viewed more than 213 million times.
Some stories originated from RT and Sputnik, state-funded Russian information services that are more akin to traditional news sites but sometimes include false or misleading articles.
The coverage was overwhelmingly favorable to Donald Trump, and some of the most notable examples of fake news garnering major traffic online centered on
Hillary Clinton’s health,
protesters that were allegedly paid to interrupt Trump events,
and fears about vote tampering.