The basic findings include:
- The earliest reports of organised social media manipulation emerged in 2010, and by 2017 there are details on such organisations in 28 countries, including the US and UK.
- Looking across the 28 countries, every authoritarian regime has social media campaigns targeting their own populations, while only a few of them target foreign publics. In contrast, almost every [capitalist] democracy in this sample has organised social media campaigns that target foreign publics, while political-party-supported campaigns target domestic voters.
- Authoritarian regimes are not the only or even the best at organised social media manipulation. The earliest reports of government involvement in nudging public opinion involve [capitalist] democracies, and new innovations in political communication technologies often come from political parties and arise during high-profile elections.
- Over time, the primary mode for organising cyber troops has gone from involving military units that experiment with manipulating public opinion over social media networks to strategic communication firms that take contracts from governments for social media campaigns.