U.S. Politics

3 key takeaways from the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia and Trump

3 key takeaways from the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia and Trump

Source: Getty Images

MIC.COM

Republicans are focused on the scale and skill of Russian hacking

The three witnesses before the committee stressed the highly coordinated and long-planned manipulation of news, social media and online information distribution by the Russians. Clint Watts, a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University, told senators Russians have possessed the ability to hack servers and manipulate online news since 2014.

“The Russians could not do [interfere in the American election] if they started in 2016,” Watts said of Russian meddling in the election.

The witnesses detailed exactly how the Russian government and its associates influenced the election. First, Russian-backed news outlets like Russia Today and Sputnik would publish a false story. Then, social media accounts — some automated — would share the story thousands of times within hours of its publication, launching the false narrative into the top trending news on platforms such as Twitter. That elevation would prompt attention from the mainstream media, further elevating the fake story.

False stories were often shared by accounts that would feel familiar to the people most likely to follow that account. A Twitter user in Wisconsin, for example, would be targeted by a different automated Russian social media account than a Twitter user in Florida might. “You see somebody and they look exactly like you, even down to the pictures,” Eugene Rumer, director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was one of the presidential candidates hurt by the Russian misinformation efforts, Watts said. Rubio said the U.S. was the victim of “a highly coordinated misinformation campaign involving dozens of fake accounts that posted fake stories for hours.” The goal was simple: “To pit Americans against one another,” the senator said. “Aren’t we in the midst of a blitzkrieg of misinformation … to sow discord amongst Americans?”

Sen. Marco Rubio was singled out by one of the witnesses at Thursday’s hearing as a victim of Russia’s misinformation campaign. Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

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One thought on “3 key takeaways from the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia and Trump

  1. All the World War III books of last several decades have told about misinformation and disinformation in peace time and in wartime. Films can be made showing thousands of enemy troops in retreat and cities and factories bombed out, all fabricated news to be broadcast to the enemy country’s population creating panic and fear. Romney was right about Russia being our greatest threat. These matters are acts of war. What happens now and what will be the response ? The men I would want to have in the White House now would be Reagan or Nixon or Kennedy.

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