Thousands of Russia-linked Facebook adverts aimed at influencing 2016 presidential election released by Congress

FLS/ BLOGGER: Somehow I do not think we find this information surprising!

 

Democrats pushed for release of all ads tied to Russia

Congress has released all of the more than 3,000 Facebook ads purchased by Russian-linked agents ahead of the 2016 presidential contest, seeking to illuminate a massive election disruption effort.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee moved to release the full stash of posts paid for by the Internet Research Agency, which is described by intelligence agencies as a Kremlin-linked troll farm, saying the American people deserved to understand the extent of Russian meddling.

“There’s no question that Russia sought to weaponise social media platforms to drive a wedge between Americans, and in an attempt to sway the 2016 election”, California Democrat Adam Schiff said in a statement.

“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”, he added.

They offered a fuller picture of tactics already detailed in congressional hearings and in an indictment of alleged Internet Research Agency personnel from special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian election meddling and potential links to the Trump campaign.

Seeking to inflame social tensions, advertisements took provocative stances on issues like immigration and gun control – often releasing content that took both multiple sides of the same issue.

Russian-backed posts praising Donald Trump and assailing his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton proliferated, bearing out what Mr Mueller’s indictment and intelligence agencies call Russia’s clear preference for Mr Trump. Other posts favoured Ms Clinton’s Democratic rival Bernie Sanders.

The posts also harnessed Facebook’s tools for targeting specific voter demographics. A page sponsored by an apocryphal “Army of Jesus” group that likened Ms Clinton to Satan was geared towards people whose interests included “stop illegal immigration” and a range of Fox News personalities.

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Zuckerberg on countering Russian election interference efforts: ‘This is an arms race’

 

With a Facebook advertising budget of about $100,000, Russian-tied actors were able to amplify the reach of their content so that it appeared before well over 100 million Americans.

Amid a backlash over its role as a conduit for disinformation, Facebook pledged to begin releasing more information about political advertising and has unveiled a feature letting users see if they interacted with Russian-generated content.

Mr Mueller’s inquiry has attracted the unflagging wrath of the president, who regularly denounces the investigation as a meritless “witch hunt” manufactured by partisan law enforcement officials.

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