The Evolution of Russian Electoral Interference: 2016 and 2020 U.S. Presidential Elections




Kennedy, Gabrielle

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Electoral interference has been a card in major powers’ hands since before digital elections. Despite this, the 2016 U.S. presidential election brought this phenomenon to the fore of American minds. Russia’s electoral intervention in the 2016 U.S. presidential election was characterized through the use of bots to amplify disinformation on social media. The U.S. government and private sector response meant to deter Russia from interfering in future elections, with the private sector paying special attention to limiting the use of bots on social media platforms. However, Russia intervened again in 2020, but with new tactics and messaging. With this topic still being highly contentious, this thesis provides data and analysis suggesting that Moscow innovated in the inter-election period between 2016 and 2020, rather than decreased its efforts.



Electoral interference., Russia., Donald Trump., Hillary Clinton., Bots., Joe Biden., Internet Research Agency., Subversion., Disinformation., Information campaign., United States., Elections.