Facebook Just Confirmed Russia Spent At Least $100k On Ads To Influence Election

Earlier today, Facebook representatives told Congress something that should shake every American to their core: A shady Russian company bought thousands of dollars worth of ads specifically targeting American voters. $100,000, to be exact. In other words, Russian actors actively sought to influence the outcome of our election.

Facebook has traced the ads back to what they’re calling a “Russian troll farm,” which is known to spread propaganda friendly to the Kremlin. Some mentioned both Trump and Hillary by name, while most merely worked to stoke fears about gun rights, immigration, and other issues – the same fears that Trump himself stoked during his campaign.

With all the brouhaha surrounding “fake news,” and the question of how big a role social media played in the dissemination of fake news that may have unduly influenced our electoral outcome, this is a massive revelation indeed.

NBC News posted Facebook’s official statement on the matter to their Twitter account. It reads, in part:

“We have found approximately $100,000 in ad spending from June of 2015 to May of 2017—associated with roughly 3,000 ads—that was connected to about 470 inauthentic accounts and Pages in violation of our policies. Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia.”

Read their full statement below:

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How utterly convenient that these ads started popping up right as Trump formally announced his candidacy. This was even before the primary season really got underway, and the GOP field was crowded. At that point, we weren’t going to know for months who the GOP candidate would be. Yet, when combined with all the other evidence against Trump and his campaign, such as meetings between Don Jr. and a Russian lawyer, the Trumps’ financial connections in Russia, and more, the dark picture of Russian meddling starts becoming a little clearer.

Here’s the thing: While the amount these Russians spent is just a tiny fraction of overall spending during the campaign cycle, and most of the ads didn’t actually reference our election, the targeting was more specific than it ought to have been. That brings up questions about whether these Russian operators had help from within the U.S. when it came to targeting their ads.

If they did indeed have help from inside our borders, where did the help come from? Russians already here? Or people close to some of the candidates (like, oh, say, Donald Trump and his family)? Facebook can’t determine that, but hopefully investigators will be able to uncover some information about it soon.


Featured image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images