After continued reports of Russian backed ads during the 2016 presidential election, the United States Congress has been given information on 3,000 Facebook advertisements and hundreds of fake accounts and groups on the social platform linked to a Kremlin propaganda organization.
Facebook CEO: “Racial and Social Division”
The ads and groups in question seem to have been part of an elaborately planned disinformation campaign. Memes, visual quotes, text posts and advertisements out of gun rights, LGBT and Black Lives Matter groups were some of those named in the affidavit.
According to reports, the purpose of this disinformation was specifically meant to further fan the fires of “racial and social divide”, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said. The 2016 election was a particularly vicious and tumultuous one, with social media in particular causing rifts in an already contentious political landscape.
Zuckerberg has released his second official statement on the issue since returning from paternity leave. He says that in addition to providing this information to Congress, Facebook is also laying down their plan to help stamp down on this problem in the future.
Among the steps being taken are being more transparent with their advertising, using manual and automatic review processes for filtering out inappropriate or inflammatory ads, expanding restrictions on ad content, adding further verification steps for authenticating ad purchasers and helping to establish industry standards to use for all social advertising platforms.
It isn’t only social advertising that is under the microscope. Foreign influence in the election of Donald Trump has been a topic of investigation since he first took the White House, including meetings between his son in law, Jared Kushner, with several dignitaries and attorneys from Russia.
The Facebook ads and groups being linked to the country is a further sign of potential collusion. But more than that, it is a signal that the country was attempting (with great success) to create friction within the country. That tension can still be felt within the nation, particularly with the emboldening of white power groups over the course of the months the ads were run.
With this new evidence it seems only a matter of time before Congress is able to provide solid proof of election tampering, though whether or not it will be linked directly to Trump and his cabinet/campaign trail is yet to be seen. At the very least we see a pattern of influence from Russia and we should be asking ‘Why?’.
Sources: Facebook Blog