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Photo: Ann Heisenfelt/Getty Images

Russian bots and trolls immediately capitalized on the Mueller report, according to research from SafeGuard Cyber.

Why it matters: Russia's social media efforts are often incorrectly thought of as purely election interference. They're actually a year-in, year-out slog aiming to capitalize on any major news story to fracture the U.S. public.

Details: SafeGuard maintains a database of 600,000 "bad actors" — a mix of automated accounts (bots) and manually controlled accounts (trolls). SafeGuard attributes many, not all, to Russia.

  • Russian bots and trolls increased their rate of posting by 286% on April 16, the day Mueller's report was released, and the number of unique accounts posting increased by 48%.
  • It's pretty clear what they were talking about. The top 5 hashtags were #mueller, #muellerreport, #trump, #barr, and #russia, with the rate of #muller increasing more than 50-fold.

What they're saying: "The goal here is to get out the content with so much force that getting one or two retweets a time will reach a huge audience," said George Kamide, director at SafeGuard.

  • "We didn't just see an increase in activity, we saw an increase in the potency of the accounts used," he said.
  • In the days leading up to the report, the average account the company classifies as Russian had 13,500 followers. After the report was released, that number spiked to 18,600.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Trump can't quit mainstream media

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa are interviewed by Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" in September. Photo: William B. Plowman/NBC via Getty Images

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa issued a rebuttal on Friday to a statement by former President Donald Trump that misrepresented their reporting — and once again showed the 45th president's thin skin about mainstream media.

Driving the news: "Former President Trump said ... our book, 'Peril,' implied that he was planning to go to war with China," the statement begins. "[W]e report that Chairman of Joint Chiefs Mark Milley 'believed that Trump did not want a war' before or after the 2020 election."

NY declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron COVID variant

Governor Kathy Hochul makes an announcement about a new plan transforming Penn Station on Nov. 3, 2021. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday declared a state of emergency amid rising COVID-19 cases and the newly-identified Omicron variant of the virus.

Driving the news: The declaration enables the state to acquire supplies to fight a potential surge in cases, increase hospital capacity and combat potential staff shortages, NBC's local affiliate reports.

4 hours ago - Health

First cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant discovered in U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Two cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant were detected in the United Kingdom overnight, the U.K. Health Security Agency announced Saturday.

Why it matters: The discovery comes as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.