The US Senate Intelligence Committee released two externally produced reports that provide further data on the 2016 national elections, including one partly authored by D4D Advisory Board member Philip Howard, Director of the Oxford Internet Institute in collaboration with Graphika, a data analytics firm, and a second by New Knowledge, another company studying social media and disinformation. The reports find much broader usage of social media accounts linked across platforms, particularly targeting conservative voters and African Americans. Platforms such as Instagram and YouTube have received less attention in the media, but were also found to have been used by groups such as the Russian Internet Research Agency, while the researchers also suggested that social media platforms would need to share more data to fully understand the full scope of the campaigns. The Senate Intelligence Committee plans to release its own report on these issues in the near future.
A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators led by Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have written a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking for an investigation into “CCP attempts to erode democratic processes and norms around the world threaten U.S. partnerships and prosperity,” particularly in regards to Taiwan. They suggest that organized social media campaigns targeted the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), its candidates and President Tsai Ing-wen during local elections in November. Observers in Taiwan and elsewhere have said that the Chinese government supported these opposition campaigns with different forms of computational propaganda, and the Senators’ letter suggested they find the allegations credible and want them investigated.