Facebook just told investigators that it sold roughly $100,000 in advertising to a Russian firm, whose sole purpose was to target American voters, during the 2016 presidential campaign.
According to the Washington Post, Facebook executives admitted that the Russia-based “troll farm” that purchased the ads had a history of publishing pro-Kremlin propaganda. The ads run by the campaign which was comprised of nearly 3000 ads through 500 fraudulent accounts were designed to target American voters. While only a handful mentioned Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton by name, the content focused on divisive issues facing voters like immigration fears, gun rights, and racial tension.
“Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We have shared our findings with U.S. authorities investigating these issues, and we will continue to work with them as necessary.”
The Mueller investigation uncovered the ad campaign during its probe into suspected election tampering by Russia, possibly in concert with the Trump team.
There Probably Was a Trump-Russia Coordination
In January, the U.S. intelligence community found that Russia most likely tampered with the U.S. election to help the Republican secure the presidential seat. One of the common tactics the Russians had used was employing social media trolls to smear Clinton and spread false news.
Even though the sum the Russians paid for their pro-Trump campaign is relatively small, the findings suggest Russian operatives may have coordinated with the Trump campaign. Sen. Mark Warner who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee wondered how the Russians knew how to target states and their voters in ways that even Democrats could.
“How did they know to go to that level of detail in those kinds of jurisdictions?,” Warner wondered in May.
A Facebook official with knowledge of the company’s internal investigation into the issue said it is unclear if the political ads in question may hint to a type of coordination.
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