Facebook turned over to Congress at least $100,000 worth of Russian-bought ads aimed at highlighting the two groups as political enemies
Facebook turned over to Congress at least $100,000 worth of Russian-purchased advertisements that depicted Muslims and Black Lives Matter as political enemies, the Washington Post revealed on Monday.
The ads, which were bought and utilised during the 2016 US presidential election, had intended to “sow discord among religious groups,” the Washington Post report said.
“These targeted messages, along with others that have surfaced in recent days, highlight the sophistication of an influence campaign slickly crafted to mimic and infiltrate US political discourse while also seeking to heighten tensions between groups already wary of one another,” it read.
Some of the ads that targeted conservative audiences showed Muslim women's approval for Hillary Clinton.
Ads like this are an attempt to “encourage discord in American society,” former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul told the Washington Post.
“The idea of using Facebook to incite anti-black hatred and anti-Muslim prejudice and fear while provoking extremism is an old tactic. It’s not unique to the United States and it’s a global phenomenon,” Malkia Cyril, a Black Lives Matter activist told the Post.
Facebook said that Russians used around 470 fake Facebook accounts to purchase the ads.
“Their aim was to sow chaos,” said Democratic Senator Mark Warner. “In many cases, it was more about voter suppression rather than increasing turnout,” he added.
One of the lead investigators of the Congressional Russia probe, Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, said, “I think the American people should see a representative sample of these ads to see how cynical the Russians were using these ads to sow division within our society”.