Cyber security research firm New Knowledge, in collaboration with researchers from Columbia University and Canfield Research LLC, examined data from Twitter, Facebook and Google parent firm Alphabet.
Researchers stated of all of the platforms that they reviewed,”Instagram was perhaps that the most effective platform for the Internet Research Agency,” speaking to the company that spread false info on these platforms and is linked into some close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
When reached for comment, a Facebook spokesperson directed CNBC to several blog articles about how they’ve managed Russian action on their own platforms, such as Instagram.
The IRA was able to gain a following of over 10,000 people across 40 percent of its accounts, the report said, with 12 accounts attaining more than 100,000 followers.
All of the tech firms were requested by the SSCI to provide data for accounts they thought were linked to the IRA, but didn’t hand over all available data nor supply methodology for identifying accounts, according to the researchers.
Of the 116,000 Instagram articles the company supplied for the analysis, researchers discovered 187 million admissions on the platform.
By comparison, the 61,500 unique Facebook posts the firm provided were found to have 77 million engagements along with also the 10.4 million tweets provided by Twitter garnered 73 million admissions.
Organic posts drove engagement on Instagram, in spite of the popular theory that advertisements on Facebook’s possessions was mainly to blame form misinformation.
“The advertisement engagements were a minor factor in a much wider, organically driven influence operation,” investigators wrote.
Accounts associated with the IRA sought to increase their reach in part by selling merchandise on the platform, according to the report, and so were often employed in the “Black community-targeted accounts” with hashtags #supportblackbusiness and #buyblack.
The accounts would sometimes offer discounts in exchange for sharing the content.
The IRA had its sites to sell merchandise, which investigators said would provide the IRA with personal information of people who bought products from the sites, in addition to a potential source of revenue.
The IRA could also possibly identify “Committed audiences” to goal people with similar profile traits through Facebook’s ad system.