$100K in Pre-Election Facebook Ads Tied to Russian 'Troll Farm'

Facebook says the ads promoted 'divisive' political views to voters
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2017 6:23 PM CDT
Facebook says it appears a Russian "troll farm" spent $100,000 on political advertising in the lead up to the 2016 US election.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

(Newser) – Facebook says a Russian "troll farm" appears to have spent $100,000 on 3,300 digital ads targeting American voters in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election, the Washington Post reports. While some of the ads expressly mentioned Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, the majority simply promoted "divisive" views on things like gun and gay rights, discrimination, and immigration. According to Reuters, the ads were linked to 470 "inauthentic" accounts and pages that have since been suspended. While Facebook isn't releasing the ads, the names of the suspended pages featured words like "patriot" and "refugee," the Guardian reports. The Russian company linked to the ads has a history of spreading pro-Kremlin propaganda.

Facebook said it also found $50,000 spent on 2,200 "potentially politically related" ads that may be tied to Russia. The company's findings are more evidence to back the conclusion of US intelligence agencies that Russia influenced the election. The findings are also likely to make investigators question whether the Russians were getting input on ad buys from people in the US. The ad buys may have been a violation of US election law by Facebook and others involved. “It is unlawful for foreign nationals to be spending money in connection with any federal, state, or local election, directly or indirectly,” a member of the US Federal Election Commission tells Reuters. Facebook found no evidence tying the ads to any presidential campaign. (Read more Facebook stories.)

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