Russian actors had a complex system of search engine optimization, virtual private networks, and engineers dedicated to data analysis, graphics and IT, with the goal of sowing distrust in the American political system, according to a new indictment.
Thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian entities, indicted by a federal grand jury on Friday, are being accused of interfering with U.S. political processes across multiple campaigns, in violation of criminal laws. Twitter, PayPal, Google's YouTube, and Facebook and subsidiary Instagram were among technology tools used by a Russian network of about 80 employees, the indictment said.
The role of social media in the election has been a specter for Silicon Valley, amid growing calls for more regulation around giants like Facebook. The set-up revealed by Friday's indictment, not unlike a digital media start-up, sheds light on exactly what American technology companies have been up against.
The indictment adds more color to testimony made by technology executives over the past year. Representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google have told Congress that they were taking steps to remove fake accounts and counter propaganda, estimating that millions of people may have been exposed to the Russian content.