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President Trump and Russian President Putin at the 2018 G20 summit. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

A new study found a correlation between retweets of known Russian troll accounts during the 2016 election and Donald Trump's poll numbers.

Why it matters: The study, conducted by a team headed at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and published in the peer-reviewed University of Illinois-Chicago journal "First Monday," suggests that — despite protests to the contrary by Republicans and Trump allies — the Russian disinformation campaign was successful in influencing the 2016 election.

Caveat: Correlation does not always mean causation. If a Trump talking point encouraged a particularly viral Tweet, for example, it may have also encouraged a change in Trump's polling on its own.

  • It's also worth noting that the U.S. intelligence community has not conclusively weighed in on whether Russia's interference in 2016 had a tangible impact on the results of the election.

Details: The Tennessee-Knoxville study analyzed 770,005 tweets in English from known Russian troll accounts, as well as corresponding poll data from FiveThirtyEight's archive of multiple polling outlets.

  • Every 25,000 retweets of Russian accounts correlated to a 1% increase in Trump's poll numbers one week later.
  • Given the frequency of tweets from Russian accounts, 25,000 retweets would average around 10 retweets per tweet.
  • Retweets did not have a similar effect on Hillary Clinton's poll numbers.
  • The study also found that 91% of first retweeters of known Russian bots were non-Russian bots, "which suggests that propaganda spread into networks of real U.S. citizens."

Go deeper: U.S. is underestimating Putin's "grand strategy" for Russian dominance

Editor's note: The headline and first paragraph of this story have been updated to clarify that the study suggests a correlation between troll posts and Trump poll numbers.

Go deeper

Battle for the soul of a new web

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A well-funded and intensely motivated chunk of tech's hive mind is finding common cause in a vast new project: rebuilding the web on a foundation of cryptocurrency and blockchain tech. They call it "Web3."

The big picture: Developers, investors and early adopters imagine a future in which the technologies that enable Bitcoin and Ethereum will break up the concentrated power today's tech giants wield and usher in a golden age of individual empowerment and entrepreneurial freedom.

First look: Biden summons top CEOs on supply chain

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden will meet Monday afternoon with CEOs of big retailers, grocers and consumer-products firms to send this message, according to the White House: Products will be on shelves for holiday shopping.

Zoom out: Black Friday sales rebounded from 2020.

Thanksgiving box office shows theaters have long road to recovery

Photo of Disney's "Encanto;" Credit: Disney

Box office ticket sales over the Thanksgiving holiday show that consumer confidence in moviegoing is slowly improving, but not enough to bring the struggling theater industry back to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon, if ever.

Why it matters: "We may have to temper expectations a bit" for next year, said Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

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