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Leonid Bershidsky

Facebook Ads Reveal the Real Russian Game

U.S. intelligence estimates were wrong: Russian trolls and their Kremlin masters weren't partisan.
Russian toolbox.

Russian toolbox.

Photographer: Drew Angerer

The Facebook ads placed by a Russian troll farm and released on Wednesday by the U.S. Congress Intelligence Committee show that the Russian propaganda campaign of 2016 didn't favor either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Instead, it mocked and goaded America, holding up a distorted but, in the final analysis, remarkably accurate mirror.

This directly contradicts previous U.S. intelligence community assessments.  "We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election," the intelligence community assessment released in January stated. "Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump."