The US government released its report detailing thousands of Russian-bought Facebook and Instagram advertisements designed to “sow discord online” among American voters before the November 2016 election. Nearly 3,500 ads were purchased between 2015 and 2017 by the Kremlin-run Internet Research Agency (IRA), which is tasked with influencing public opinion namely through the Internet.
The report shows the “breadth and systematic nature of the conspiracy” dating back to 2014, says the House of Representatives’ Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and shows the multiple ways those posing as American citizens and organizations “misused online platforms” to carry out “their clandestine operations”.
Advertisements in the report were divided up by month and year of purchase. Formatted into two-page PDFs, the left side shows the text of the ad, its targeting parameters, and how much money was paid in Russian rubles for it to run. The second page shows the ad itself. The agency also released a list of Twitter accounts associated with the IRA and a sample of Facebook ads paid for by the group.
Just a limited number of the ads have been released, but the ones available show how extensive and pervasively misleading their campaigns were. Often written in poor English, the ads covered a range of campaign issues like Black Lives Matter, Clinton’s alleged corruption, immigration, LGBT rights, and gun control. Many of the ads were catered to left agendas and showed an intention to pit Americans against one another in some of the most contentious and divisive campaign issues.
“The Intelligence Community further documented Moscow’s interference in our election and its efforts to assist Donald Trump’s campaign and harm Hillary Clinton’s," reads the report, citing further evidence that Putin and the Russian Government developed a “clear preference for President-elect Trump”.
In February, 13 Russian individuals and three Russian organizations were indicted for “engaging in operations to interfere with US political and electoral processes” in a move that lawmakers say will expose a "surreptitious social media campaign” and hold “accountable those responsible for this attack”.
We've compiled some of the most polarizing examples of the advertisements below.