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Media spread fake news that Russia 'hacked' 'election results' — but here's the truth

The media falsely reported that DHS said Russia hacked "election result," except that's not what happened at all. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

What happened?

Several mainstream media outlets reported Friday that the U.S. government recently confirmed that Russian government "cyber actors" attempted to hack the 2016 election results or "election systems."

However, the tweets don't correctly characterize what the Department of Homeland Security said about Russia's actions, giving readers a very misguided idea of what actually happened.

What did the DHS say?

The DHS said that 21 states were affected. But it wasn't election results or voting machines that the Russians attempted to manipulate, but rather the voter registrations systems, according to Wisconsin officials, one of the effected states.

"This afternoon, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security notified the Wisconsin Elections Commission for the first time that 'Russia government cyber actors' unsuccessfully targeted the state's voter registration system in 2016," the officials said in a statement. They explained the attempts had "no impact on Wisconsin’s systems or the election."

The Hill further explained why voting machine or election results cannot be tampered with:

In the majority of the states, the Department of Homeland Security only saw preparations for hacking, like scanning to find potential modes for attack. Voting machines are not connected to the internet and cannot be scanned in this way, but other systems, including those housing voter rolls, can be.

They got called out

Jessica Huseman, a reporter for ProPublica, called NBC out on social media for the error:

Later, a 'clarification'

One last thing…
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