Release of Thousands of Russia-Linked Facebook Ads Shows How Propaganda Sharpened

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee made public for the first time the full cache of more than 3,000 ads that Facebook said were purchased by a pro-Kremlin group, the Internet Research Agency. The ads, fewer than 50 of which had previously been revealed, offer the clearest window yet into the evolving tactics used by the group as it sought to amplify social and political tensions in the US. The Russian-backed pages initially deployed relatively simple techniques, buying ads targeted to reach large segments, such as all Facebook users living in the US. Many of those ads gained little traction with users. By 2017, the tactics were sharper, the cache shows. They bought ads focused on a specified radius around specific cities and targeted people with certain job titles, such as “coal miner,” or certain employers—including Facebook itself. The ads show how aggressive and broad-based the Russian-backed Facebook pages were in pushing hot-button social and racial issues, including illegal immigration and police brutality. Some pages used Facebook to publicize real-world rallies in cities across the US. Others used Facebook to sell apparel or gain personal information about users by urging them to fill out surveys or share their profile photos. Only a subset of the ads explicitly mentioned the election, and those that did largely attacked Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton or raised doubts about the federal government. 

Release of Thousands of Russia-Linked Facebook Ads Shows How Propaganda Sharpened Congress releases every Russian Facebook ad that ran during election (Axios)