Mueller investigation focusing on social media's role in 2016 election: report

Mueller investigation focusing on social media's role in 2016 election: report
© Getty

Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election is focusing increasingly on how Moscow used social media to disrupt the presidential race, according to a Bloomberg report.

That involves seeking additional information about Russian activities on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook disclosed last week that a Kremlin-linked company purchased more than $100,000 worth of ads on its platform that ran between June 2015 and May 2017.

Those ads were linked to nearly 500 fraudulent accounts that likely operated out of Russia and focused on hot-button issues like immigration and gun control. 

Likewise, Twitter is expected to hand over to Congress an analysis of Russian activity on its platform, similar to the one provided by Facebook last week.

ADVERTISEMENT
Social media has become an increasingly vulnerable target for foreign nations to try to influence the elections and policies of other countries, according to Bloomberg. U.S. intelligence agencies, including the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, are exploring how to prevent future election meddling.

Meanwhile, National Intelligence Director Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsOvernight Cybersecurity: DHS bans agencies from using Kaspersky software | Panel calls Equifax CEO to testify | Facebook pulling ads from fake news Mueller investigation focusing on social media's role in 2016 election: report Intelligence director criticizes former officials for speaking out against Trump MORE warned that Russia is stepping up its cyber operations, saying Wednesday that Moscow has "assumed an even more aggressive cyber posture by increasing cyber espionage operations and leaking data stolen from those operations."

Congressional investigators are also turning their attention increasingly toward the role of social media in Russia's election meddling efforts.

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrLawmakers grapple with warrantless wiretapping program Facebook under fire over Russian ads in election 5 senators call for US to shutter embassy in Havana MORE (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Tuesday that his panel would likely interview Facebook officials as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the election, according to Bloomberg.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam SchiffOvernight Cybersecurity: Equifax hit by earlier hack | What to know about Kaspersky controversy | Officials review EU-US privacy pact Democrat: Trump only loyal to the 'pro-Trump' party Sunday shows preview: Trump officials gear up for UN assembly MORE (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, told Bloomberg that his panel has been talking with tech companies, including Facebook, about the matter.