“Pro-Beyoncé” vs. “Anti-Beyoncé”: 3,500 Facebook ads show the scale of Russian manipulation | NYT

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday released about 3,400 Facebook ads purchased by Russian agents around the 2016 presidential election on issues including immigration and gun control, a reminder of the complexity of the manipulation Facebook is trying to fix ahead of the midterm elections.

May 10 at 11:10 AM

Facebook ads purchased by Russian agents, displayed during a congressional hearing with representatives of tech companies. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday released about 3,500 Facebook ads purchased by Russian agents around the 2016 presidential election on issues from immigration to gun control, a reminder of the complexity of the manipulation that Facebook is trying to contain ahead of the midterm elections.

The ads, from mid-2015 to mid-2017, illustrate the extent to which Kremlin-aligned forces sought to stoke social, cultural and political unrest on one of the Web’s most powerful platforms. With the help of Facebook’s targeting tools, they delivered their disinformation to narrow categories of users – from black or gay users to fans of Fox News.

In doing so, Russia’s online army reached at least 146 million people on Facebook and Instagram, its photo-sharing service, with ads and other posts. Sometimes, Russian trolls also tried to fuel rallies and protests, endeavoring at one point in 2016 to pit Beyoncé fans and critics against each other in New York City.

The release of the ads comes months after top executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter testified at a trio of congressional hearings about Russia’s propaganda efforts, a campaign waged by the Kremlin-sponsored Internet Research Agency, or IRA. Those companies since have pledged to vet political ads more aggressively, and Facebook in particular has said it would begin labeling ads about political candidates as well as some hot-button political issues.

In the meantime, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said lawmakers would continue probing Russia’s online disinformation efforts. In February, Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia and the 2016 election, indicted individuals tied to the IRA for trying to interfere in the presidential race.

“They sought to harness Americans’ very real frustrations and anger over sensitive political matters in order to influence American thinking, voting and behavior,” Schiff said in a statement. “The only way we can begin to inoculate ourselves against a future attack is to see first-hand the types of messages, themes and imagery the Russians used to divide us.”

For its part, Facebook stressed in a statement: “This will never be a solved problem because we’re up against determined, creative and well-funded adversaries. But we are making steady progress.”

Source: “Pro-Beyoncé” vs. “Anti-Beyoncé”: 3,500 Facebook ads show the scale of Russian manipulation

Russia played the people of our country as they still live by a fairytale of superiority, and they show that we need to GROW UP oh and get an education you know the one that the GOP is fighting to make sure you don’t get!

#gopcomplicit

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