US House Democrats release over 3,500 Russian Facebook ads

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Washington, May 11 (IANS) Democrats from the US House Intelligence Committee have released thousands of advertisements that were run on Facebook by the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) to influence the 2016 US Presidential election.

The Democrats on Thursday released 3,519 such ads purchased by the IRA during the 2014-2016 period.

“More than 11.4 million American users were exposed to those advertisements. The data made available today does not include the 80,000 pieces of organic content shared on Facebook by the IRA. We expect to make this content public in the future,” the House Intelligence Committee said in a statement.

Exposure of organic content may have reached more than 126 million Americans, it added.

“The Facebook advertisements we are publishing today have been carefully reviewed by the Committee Minority and redacted by Facebook to protect personally-identifiable information (PII),” the statement said.

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“Russia sought to weaponise social media to drive a wedge between Americans, and in an attempt to sway the 2016 election,” tweeted Adam Schiff, Democrats’ ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee.

Reacting to Schiff, Facebook said that it gave more than 3,000 ads to Congress so they could better understand the extent of Russian interference in the last US Presidential election.

“In the run-up to the 2016 elections, we were focused on the kinds of cybersecurity attacks typically used by nation states, for example, phishing and malware attacks. And we were too slow to spot this type of information operations interference. Since then, we’ve made important changes to prevent bad actors from using misinformation to undermine the democratic process,” Facebook said in a blog post late Friday.

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On February 16, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian individuals and three Russian organisations for engaging in operations to interfere with US political and electoral processes, including the 2016 Presidential election.

Throughout the indictment, Mueller lays out important facts about the activities of the IRA, the notorious Russian “troll” farm, and its operatives.



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