Sunday, 27 May 2018
Latest news
Main » Trove of Russian-backed Facebook ads show 2016 strategy at work

Trove of Russian-backed Facebook ads show 2016 strategy at work

11 May 2018
Trove of Russian-backed Facebook ads show 2016 strategy at work

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released a tidal wave of Russian advertisements Thursday, all posted to Instagram and Facebook with the goal of wounding the American electorate during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Facebook says ten million Americans saw the ads, and 146 million, or almost half of the USA population, may have been reached by content from Russian operatives such as status updates and videos on Facebook and Instagram.

A post specifically targeting Baltimore and areas south of the Potomac River featured the photos of three African-American men killed by police officers. Few, if any, support Clinton.

However, none of the political ads gave any hint they were actually created in Russian Federation. From pro-police posts, to pro-Black Lives Matter posts to calls for Texas Secessionist rallies to posts designed for LGBTQA activists or fans of Fox News, Russia left no stone un-turned when it came to exploiting the fault-lines in America.

"We would like to be able to show the country the full [breadth] of what the Russians were doing on social media to influence the American electorate, so we're continuing to work with Facebook", he said. Ads were still running in July and August of 2017, weeks before Facebook made the effort public. The Jesus ad had only 2,392 impressions and received 269 clicks.

Since releasing the ads, Facebook has been trying to prevent similar foreign manipulation in other elections around the world, as well as in this year's USA congressional elections.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington DC in April
ANDREW HARNIK AP Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington DC in April

Looking at the newly-released ads, it was clear that Russian trolls were trying to replicate their success in Idaho.

The social media giant estimated that the Russian ads reached about 10 million users in the United States.

And the barrage of ads continued after the election in November 2016.

Facebook listed various ways it was dealing with the problem, from more ad transparency, verification and using improved technology to spot fake accounts.

"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", said Representative Adam Schiff, the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. The ad said people should gather at Trump Tower the Saturday after the election: "Show Mr Trump there actually ARE people in NY who voted for him!"