Five persistent, hysterically overblown myths about Russia’s 2016 meddling

2. There Is No Evidence Russia Persuaded Anyone to Vote Differently

While it’s clear one of Russia’s meddling goals was to manipulate voters, there is no evidence they succeeded in changing the outcome of the election, or even persuaded a single voter to change his or her ballot. Aside from the stolen emails, which had a debatable impact, the influence campaign Russia orchestrated really didn’t amount to much.

The DNI assessment found Russia used state-run media outlets and social media trolls to push propaganda aimed at influencing voters, and congressional investigators later released examples of ads Russia purchased on Facebook and Google aimed at turning voters against Clinton. The media played up these revelations, in one case going so far as to harass an elderly woman on her front lawn because she unwittingly crossed paths with a Russian troll on Facebook. But again, there is no evidence any of these tactics had a measurable effect on the election result.

Google found Russia spent “tens of thousands of dollars” on ads, and Facebook revealed Russians spent about $100,000 on ads over a two-year period. These are minuscule expenditures, especially compared to what the Hillary and Trump campaigns dumped into political ads on Facebook — a combined $81 million.

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