Facebook officials stated that they investigated the ad sales, totaling $100,000, to a Russian “troll farm” with the past of pushing pro-Kremlin publicity, these people said.
A small part of the ads, which started in the summer of 2015, directly called Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, the people said, although they refused to say which candidate the ads favored.
Most of the ads, according to a blog column published late Wednesday by Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, “seemed to focus on increasing divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum moving on topics from LGBT stuff to race issues to immigration to gun rights.”
The statement by Facebook comes as congressional analysts and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III are investigating Russian interference in the U.S. election, including accusations that the Kremlin may have agreed with the Trump campaign.
The U.S. intelligence community decided in January that Russia had opposed in the U.S. election to help elect Trump, including by practicing paid social media trolls to spread fake news designed to influence public opinion.
Even though the ad spending from Russia is tiny relevant to overall campaign costs, the statement from Facebook that a Russian firm was able to target political words is likely to fuel pointed inquiries from investigators about whether the Russians took guidance from people in the United States a question some Democrats have suggesting and asking for months.
Facebook published in its blog post-Wednesday that regarding one-quarter of the ads in issue were “geographically targeted,” although business officials declined to provide specifics about what areas or demographic organizations were the recipients. Of those targeted ads, the company said, more run in 2015 than 2016.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday that the admission by Facebook confirmed one of the ways Russia tried to interfere in U.S. politics and works as a “profound warning to us and others regarding future elections.”
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