Kremlin played both sides of the political divide
According to reports by The Washington Post, Facebook ads from the time of U.S. presidential elections in 2016 were connected with Russian government actors . The ads included messages which wanted to exploit the racial issues of the day. Attempts were made to divide the U.S. population on issues of race. As per the report, a few ads promoted civil rights movements like Black Lives Matter. The other ads criticized the same movements to sow in societal fissures.
The aim of the Russian campaign was to take advantage of the ability of Facebook to send different messages, many contrary to each other, to different user clusters based on their demographic and political characteristics. The consequence of all these efforts was to widen the discord already present among the religious groups.
Facebook is giving over 3,000 Russian-bought ads to the Congressional investigators. They were handed over as part of the probes into alleged efforts by the Kremlin to influence the result of the 2016 presidential elections. Mark R. Warner, a Senator and a Democrat from Virginia, said the Kremlin wanted to sow chaos. Warner, who is also the top Democrat holding position in Senate Intelligence Committee, said that the Russians wanted to do more of voter suppression and not increase the turnout. A few ads reputedly underlined support of Hillary Clinton among Muslim women. They actively promoted anti-immigrant and also anti-Muslim messages.
The targeted messages, along with a whole lot of others, underlined a sophisticated influence campaign smartly crafted to replicate and then infiltrate the American political discourse. The messages will also simultaneously increase the already existing tensions among groups which are already cautious of one another.
A reminder of what Russian hacking/propaganda campaign was about: Targeting liberals to push them against Clinton.
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) September 27, 2017
The details of such activities and their nature have deeply troubled Facebook investigators, the Justice Department and Capitol Hill. The ads will now be reviewed by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. The latter will try to untangle the operational matters linked to Russian help for electing Donald Trump as President in the latter half of 2016. Representative Adam B. Schiff, the other top Democrat in the Intelligence Committee 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.”