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Leonid Bershidsky

The West Needs to Measure Russian Election Meddling. Here’s How.

Techniques that once quantified the impact of political advertising don’t work for internet propaganda.

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Photographer: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

An article over the weekend in The Sunday Times says that a parliamentary report in the U.K. has concluded that it was impossible to quantify the impact of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 Brexit referendum. That largely matches research on the 2016 U.S. election by the eminent communications expert Kathleen Hall Jamieson, who has nevertheless argued that Russia played an important role in President Donald Trump’s victory.

This doesn’t mean, however, that foreign propaganda’s impact couldn’t be measured quite precisely in the future — if, that is, anyone really wanted to quantify it.