House Dems release thousands of Facebook ads bought by Russian trolls

Danny Woods
May 11, 2018

This week, Democrats on the house intelligence committee in the USA released 3,519 PDF documents consisting of images of ads placed by the Internet Research Agency and the metadata of the ads themselves - this included ad reach, who the ads were targeted to and how much was spent on the ad. 80,000 pieces of organic content were also traced back to the Internet Research Agency, which the Democrats on the house intelligence committee plan to publish at a later date. Another ad criticizing a Texas school teacher who lost her job after making racist remarks was aimed at adults living in Cleveland, Baltimore, St. Louis and Ferguson, Mo. The Jesus ad had only 2,392 impressions and received 269 clicks. "My life matter. Black matters".

The ads, which were purchased for $100,000 but reached almost 150 million people on Facebook alone, have been one of the key factors which have turned the harsh glare of lawmakers onto the tech giants.

All the ads are available to the public as a download.

House Democrats released more than 3,500 Russian-bought Facebook FB ads Thursday. There has been no evidence that Trump's campaign was in any way associated with the social media effort. In February, Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian Federation and the 2016 election, indicted individuals tied to the IRA for trying to interfere in the presidential race. Some spread rumours about her husband, former president Bill Clinton, or promote lies about her.

The propaganda continued after the election, according to the documents released Thursday.

A series of ads running two days after Trump was elected called on his backers to head to Trump Tower to oppose "massive crowds of libtards" who had gathered in Manhattan. It targets people within 50 miles of New York City and provides the street address.

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Different ads sought to stir up opposing sides of the same event or issue.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington DC in April.

It's not clear exactly when the Russian page targeting Mexican-Americans was set up, but in 2017 it had more than 200,000 followers and many of its posts were shared thousands of times, the records released by the House Intelligence Committee show.

These ads were heavily promoted during the 2016 election, with Russian trolls seeking to sow chaos. Under fire from Congress, the social media giant has pledged improvements to its ad policies and enforcement.

According to an indictment brought by Mueller of 13 Russian operatives earlier this year, the Facebook specialists, pretending to be Americans, took shifts to ensure they posted during the appropriate time zones and circulated lists of United States holidays to stay in the American groove.

"Russia sought to weaponise social media to drive a wedge between Americans, and in an attempt to sway the 2016 election", tweeted Adam Schiff, the Democrats' ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee.

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