Lawmakers Release Russian Facebook Ads

They took both sides on the issues
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2018 4:50 PM CDT
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target...   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – Curious to see the Facebook ads bought by Russian agents? Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee just released about 3,500 of them on issues from gun control to Black Lives Matter to immigration—often taking multiple sides on the same issue, the Washington Post reports. "They sought to harness Americans’ very real frustrations and anger over sensitive political matters in order to influence American thinking, voting and behavior," says Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee's top Democrat. Using targeting tools to reach specific people—like Fox News fans or gay or black users—the Kremlin-tied ads reached about 146 million users on Facebook and its photo-sharing service, Instagram.

Among divisive messages from the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency: "Anti-Beyoncé Protest Rally" and "Pro-Beyoncé Protest Rally," both outside the NFL's New York City headquarters at the same time and place; a "Brown Power" page showing defiant images of Latino political self-assertion while "South United" used the Confederate Flag to promote nationalism, CNN Money reports; a "Black Matters" page criticizing police brutality while "American Made" urged people to support police, the Guardian reports. Many of the ads are partly redacted to protect personal information, Re/Code notes, and don't include so-called "organic" content that the IRA didn't pay to have posted. The ads ran from 2015 to 2017 and cost about $100,000.

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