Saturday, 17 August, 2019

House Intel Dems release thousands of Kremlin-linked Facebook ads

Facebook ads purchased by Russian agents displayed during a congressional hearing with representatives of tech companies Facebook ads purchased by Russian agents displayed during a congressional hearing with representatives of tech companies
Sandra Phillips | 11 May, 2018, 02:19

In response to the data dump, Facebook stated on Thursday: "We gave these ads to Congress so they could better understand the extent of Russian interference in the last United States presidential election".

The ads were released by Democrats on the highly polarized House Intelligence Committee.

On Thursday, Democrats from the House Intelligence Committee released several-thousand ads that had been run on Facebook as part of Russia's efforts to interfere in US politics from mid-2015 through August of a year ago.

You can see the ads that the House Democrats released here.

The ads, from mid-2015 to mid-2017, illustrate the extent to which Kremlin-aligned forces sought to stoke social, cultural and political unrest on one of the Web's most powerful platforms.

The trove of ads released Thursday appears to back the assertion that the Russians wanted to hurt Clinton.

In April, for instance, Facebook removed 70 Facebook and 65 Instagram accounts - as well as 138 Facebook Pages - controlled by the Russian-based IRA, targeted tp people living in Russia or Russian-speakers in Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.

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"There's no question that Russian Federation sought to weaponize social media platforms to drive a wedge between Americans, and in an attempt to sway the 2016 election", said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. The only way we can begin to inoculate ourselves against a future attack is to see first-hand the types of messages, themes and imagery the Russians used to divide us.

The ads were created to get people to "Like" Russian-created Facebook pages that produced organic content.

These ads were heavily promoted during the 2016 election, with Russian trolls seeking to sow chaos.

Select ads purchased by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency have previously been released, but the House Intelligence Committee said Thursday, "all but 30 of the 3,519 are new".

And some show support for then-candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. For example, some trolls posed as critics of immigration, and targeted like-minded users. Other posts about black issues targeted all four cities, pushing news articles about police brutality and essays about being black in America, sometimes written in the first person as an African-American.

In addition to targeting users by interest, some trolls created ads that targeted voters by zip code. Russian-linked propaganda efforts used social media to spread propaganda on divisive topics like the Black Live Matter movement and LGBT issues.

"This will never be a solved problem because we're up against determined, creative and well-funded adversaries", Facebook said in a statement after the release of the ads.

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