Details emerge on Russia-linked Facebook posts before 2016 election

Facebook has said Russia-linked, "inauthentic accounts" had purchased some 3,000 advertisements between 2015 and 2017. File Photo by JaysonPhotography/Shutterstock.com

Sept. 28 (UPI) — When Facebook said this month that Russia-linked, “inauthentic” accounts had bought some 3,000 advertisements since mid-2015, it didn’t disclose many details about what the ads said or how they targeted social media users.

Instead, Facebook said the ads focused on “amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum.” After Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last week that his company would share information about those advertisements with Congress, more details are emerging the topics some of the ads addressed and how they slanted their messages.

Citing sources knowledgeable about the ads, CNN reported Wednesday that suspect accounts purchased an ad targeted toward people in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo., one of the roughly 750 advertisements that had a geographical focus.

The ad geared toward those two cities was purchased to convey a message that could be interpreted as supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement while also seemingly threatening some local residents.

CNN’s sources said the ad appeared in either late 2015 or early 2016.

Facebook has said the “vast majority” of the suspect ads did not specifically mention the 2016 presidential election. But at least some ads, ABC News reported Wednesday, disparaged immigrants and backed President Donald Trump.

One group of posts promoted by a phony, Russia-linked group calling itself Secured Borders, said “the only viable option is to elect Trump.”

“How dare they accuse Donald Trump of racism and sexism just because he’s concerned about the well-being of Americans??” one post said.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the top-ranking Democrat in the Senate intelligence committee, agreed with Facebook’s assessment that the posts overarching goal was to sow disunity.

“Their goal was to spread dissension, was to split our country apart, and they did a pretty good job,” Warner told ABC.

Representatives from Facebook, as well as search-engine giant Googlewill likely meet with the Senate intelligence committee as part of lawmakers’ Russia probe.

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