In early October 2017, Facebook said an estimated 10 million Americans saw Russian sponsored propaganda in their newsfeeds during the 2016 election season. Today they admitted that number was far great, at least 150 million Americans were exposed to this propaganda throughout the campaign cycle. Sen. Dianne Feinstein summed it up at the Senate Intel Committee, saying this is outright the “cyber warfare.”
Today, the House Intel Committee released absolutely damning information about just how specific and divisive these ads were on Facebook. In a preliminary report, they released the ads and the metadata behind them. The Daily Beast broke down the data behind just one of the ads, targeted at Trump voting, Second Amendment fans:
It was for a Facebook group called Defend The 2nd. Above an image showing a cornucopia of bullets, it billed itself as “The community of 2nd Amendment supporters, guns lovers & patriots.” That was how it appeared to the public—the American public—but Facebook internally held data that told a different story.
Ad targeting information associated with Defend The 2nd showed how highly targeted it was. The location for viewership had to be within the United States. They had to be between the ages of 18 to over 65. They had to match Facebook users with interests including the National Rifle Association, Second Amendment Sisters, Gun Owners of America, Concealed carry in the United States, and Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The ad did not come from people for whom the Second Amendment applies. Payment, through the online payment service Qiwi, came in the form of 48,305.55 Rubles, or roughly $829. For that, Russia garnered over 301,000 “impressions” from Americans, with no questions asked by Facebook.
301,000 impressions for $829. That’s a lot of Russian bang for the ruble. Trump voters were not the only ones being targeted by these ads. Skim the ads below, and these are likely just the tip of the iceberg, to see just how these the Russians were manipulating the American public on Facebook during the election season. I know I saw some of these in my feed, did you?
The House Intel Committee also made thousands of Russian-operated Twitter handles available:
And here is a list of thousands of Twitter handles linked to Russia: https://t.co/AgqP22PKez
Some examples: pic.twitter.com/fVBZx0ndYn
Ã¢ÂÂ Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) November 1, 2017