Russia-linked Facebook ads reportedly targeted battleground states with anti-Muslim propaganda

Facebook

Congress and the Department of Justice are investigating the impact and scope of Russian attempts to influence the election, which Trump has downplayed.

Facebook's disclosure came just hours after it gave congress detailed record of the ads, including data about the buyers and their targeting efforts. According to Facebook, the ads touched on divisive affairs such as LGBT and race issues as well as immigration and gun rights.

Facebook has estimated that it exposed around 10m people in the U.S. to Russian propaganda after calculating for the first time how many members were exposed to 3,000 Russian-linked ads.

That description matches what CNN has already reported about the apparent goal of the Russian buyers: to amplify political discord in the United States and fuel an atmosphere of divisiveness and chaos, especially during the presidential election. Facebook is also tightening its policies to prevent ads promoting "more subtle expressions of violence", which might include some of the ads stoking social tensions.

In a statement to congressional investigators last month, Facebook said pro-Kremlin "troll farm" The Internet Research Agency paid $100,000 to place more than 3000 ads on its service.

Russian Federation court sentences opposition politician Alexei Navalny to 20 days jail
His successor, career diplomat John Tefft was summoned out of retirement and served as USA ambassador to Russian Federation between 2014 and 2017.

Russia-linked Facebook ads during last year's U.S. presidential election mainly focused on the states of MI and Wisconsin, CNN reported on Oct 3.

Today's admission is a stark reversal of Facebook's earlier positions on Russian interests using the company's advertising platform to target Americans.

Russian operatives used a Facebook tool to identify people who might be susceptible to propaganda adverts - then bombarded them with ads such as an image of Hillary Clinton behind bars. Google - which is also being rounded up as part of the Senate's extensive investigation - just removed Russia Today from its premium YouTube ad program (known as Google Preferred). "It's a continuing process in which we're looking for this activity", the spokesperson said.

On September 21 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that over the next year his company will double the team working on election integrity, hiring 250 across its security and community safety groups.

Such a reactive approach to limiting hate speech and misinformation is guaranteed to anger politicians profoundly and goad them into drastic measures such as content blocking, splitting up the companies themselves or blocking them as China does.

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