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The Most Outrageous Ads Russia Bought On Facebook – Fast Company

These advertisements—among a cache of more than 3,000 ads and 80,000 organic posts identified by Facebook—were released today at the conclusion of a two-day Congressional Hearing, in the first official curtain-raiser on the kinds of disinformation that spread on the platform before and after last year’s elections. Facebook began to disclose the ads to Congress in early October, but had previously said it would not release them publicly. However, a number of the posts have already been identified and published in the media, thanks in part to cached data.

The subject matter these ads cover is an encyclopedia of the hot-button issues roiling the American body politic, including Black Lives Matter, illegal immigration, homosexuality, Islamic fundamentalism, and Christianity.

Metadata from a Being Patriotic post shows it was boosted as a targeted post to people’s news feeds at a cost of 500 rubles.

Created and spread (sometimes using Russian currency), the posts by the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, were part of “an insidious attempt to drive people apart,” as Colin Stretch, the general counsel for Facebook, told Congress yesterday. The posts, some with highly incendiary messages, were “deeply disturbing,” he acknowledged.

In some ads, the effort promoted protests, rallies and counter-rallies that turned into real-life events. One event, promoted by the group Black Matters just after the election, called for people to come to Union Square to “March against Trump.” “People are genuinely scared for their futures,” the post reads. “Racism won, ignorance won, Sexual assault won.” According to Facebook data, 33,140 users said they were “interested” and 16,760 indicated they planned to attend.

The Most Outrageous Ads Russia Bought On Facebook – Fast Company

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