New research shows The New York Times was even further off the mark in blaming Russian social media for Trump’s win, as Gareth Porter reports.
Facebook Said 80,000 Russian Posts Were Buried in 33 Trillion Facebook Offerings Over Two-Year Period Further Undermining NYT’s Case
By Gareth Porter
Special to Consortium News
Even more damning evidence has come to light undermining The New York Times‘ assertion in September that Russia used social media to steal the 2016 election for Donald Trump.
New research shows that a relatively paltry 80,000 posts from the private Russian company Internet Research Agency (IRA) were engulfed in literally trillions of posts on Facebook over a two-year period before and after the 2016 vote.
That was supposed to have thrown the election, according to the paper of record. In a 10,000-word article on Sept. 20, the Times reported that 126 million out of 137 million American voters were exposed to social media posts on Facebook from IRA that somehow had a hand in delivering Trump the presidency.
The newspaper said: “Even by the vertiginous standards of social media, the reach of their effort was impressive: 2,700 fake Facebook accounts, 80,000 posts, many of them elaborate images with catchy slogans, and an eventual audience of 126 million Americans on Facebook alone.”
But Consortium News, on Oct. 10, debunked that story, pointing out that reporters Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti failed to report several significant caveats and disclaimers from Facebook officers themselves, whose statements make the Times’ claim that Russian election propaganda “reached” 126 million Americans an exercise in misinformation.
What Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 31, 2017 is a far cry from what the Times claims. “Our best estimate is that approximately 126,000 million people may have been served one of these [IRA-generated] stories at some time during the two year period,” Stretch said.
Stretch was expressing a theoretical possibility rather than an established fact. He said an estimated 126…