SST Committee Staff Report Reveals Russia’s Social Media Meddling in U.S. Energy Markets
WASHINGTON – U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today released a staff report uncovering Russia’s extensive efforts to influence U.S. energy markets through divisive and inflammatory posts on social media platforms. The report details Russia’s motives in interfering with U.S. energy markets and influencing domestic energy policy and its manipulation of Americans via social media propaganda. The report includes examples of Russian-propagated social media posts.
Chairman Smith: “This report reveals that Russian agents created and spread propaganda on U.S. social media platforms in an obvious attempt to influence the U.S. energy market. Russia benefits from stirring up controversy about U.S. energy production. U.S. energy exports to European countries are increasing, which means they will have less reason to rely upon Russia for their energy needs. This, in turn, will reduce Russia’s influence on Europe to Russia’s detriment and Europe’s benefit. That’s why Russian agents attempted to manipulate Americans’ opinions about pipelines, fossil fuels, fracking and climate change. The American people deserve to know if what they see on social media is the creation of a foreign power seeking to undermine our domestic energy policy.”
The report’s key findings:
- Between 2015 and 2017, there were an estimated 9,097 Russian posts or tweets regarding U.S. energy policy or a current energy event on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
- Between 2015 and 2017, there were an estimated 4,334 IRA accounts across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
- According to information provided by Twitter, more than four percent of all IRA tweets were related to energy or environmental issues, a significant portion of content when compared to the eight percent of IRA tweets that were related to the election in the U.S.
- Russia exploited American social media as part of its concerted effort to disrupt U.S. energy markets and influence domestic energy policy.
- The IRA targeted pipelines, fossil fuels, climate change and other divisive issues to influence public policy in the U.S.
The report can be found here.
On October 31, 2017, Chairman Smith sent letters to Twitter and Facebook to continue its probe into Russian attempts to influence U.S. energy markets via social media platforms. The letters cited additional evidence that Russian agents engaged in anti-U.S. energy activities on the platforms, including Facebook-owned Instagram, and reiterated Chairman Smith’s September request for information from the companies.
On September 26, 2017, Chairman Smith requested documents and information from Twitter and Facebook related to Russian entities purchasing anti-U.S. energy advertisements on social media platforms operated by the companies, including Facebook-owned Instagram.
On July 7, 2017, Chairman Smith and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Randy Weber (R-Texas) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin requesting that the Treasury Department investigate allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. energy market through covertly funding radical environmental groups opposed to fossil fuels.