The Trump-Russia investigation is expected to closely examine one of the biggest political phenomena of the modern era, fake news. The special counsel is expected to investigate Moscow-connected Twitter bots and Facebook “trolls” that repeatedly produced fake campaign-related headlines, and thereby helped to boost Donald Trump’s candidacy for President of the U.S.
Social media researchers studying the 2016 United States’ presidential election have concluded that both real internet trolls and fake bot accounts preyed on American voters — more than 60 percent of whom relied upon social media for their political discussions — and helped create an atmosphere for false news stories and fake comments, that established Trump’s perceived popularity, pumped up pro-Trump and anti-Hillary Clinton hashtags, and even suppressed those who offered opposition.
The ability to find a site that looks like a real news place, have them run a story that isn’t true, have your trolls begin to click on that story, it rises on Facebook as a trending topic, people start to read it, by the time they figure out it isn’t true, a lot of people think it is. – Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
The special investigator’s team will examine whether the Trump campaign or Trump’s intermediaries delivered micro-targeted data to the Russian social media operators to help them target their anti-Clinton/Pro-Trump messages, especially in important swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The investigation must determine whether Trump’s aides and allies directly assisted the Russian-linked accounts, thereby running afoul of a federal law which “prohibits presidential campaigns from accepting or coordinating contributions or expenditures — directly or indirectly — from foreign nationals.”
As it pursues its investigation, the team has at its disposal the underlying assessments of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and National Security Agency (NSA), which in early January 2017 released a public report that stated Moscow led an “unprecedented” attack on the U.S. election blending covert hacking with open moves by state-funded Russian propaganda and paid social media users, or trolls, in an attempt to help elect Donald Trump for President of the United States.