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Russia Put Ads on Facebook That Divided Americans on the Basis of Race, says Report

At least 25 per cent of the ads focused on issues involving crime and policing, often with a racial connotation.

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Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), charged with meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, focused on dividing the Americans over race via its 3,517 ads on Facebook.
Democrats from the US House Intelligence Committee last week released 3,517 advertisements that were run on Facebook by the IRA during the 2014-2016 period. Pixabay

Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), charged with meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, focused on dividing the Americans over race via its 3,517 ads on Facebook.

Democrats from the US House Intelligence Committee last week released 3,517 advertisements that were run on Facebook by the IRA during the 2014-2016 period.

USA Today went through each and every ad and found that out of the 3,517 ads published, about 1,950 referred to race and were seen about 25 million times.

“Some dealt with race directly; others dealt with issues fraught with racial and religious baggage such as ads focused on protests over policing, the debate over a wall on the US border with Mexico and relationships with the Muslim community,” said the report on Sunday.

At least 25 per cent of the ads focused on issues involving crime and policing, often with a racial connotation.

“Separate ads, launched simultaneously, would stoke suspicion about how police treat black people in one ad, while another encouraged support for pro-police groups,” said the report.

Between September and November 2016, the number of race-related spots rose to 400. An additional 900 were posted after the November election through May 2017.

Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), charged with meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, focused on dividing the Americans over race via its 3,517 ads on Facebook.
Russian ads divided Americans on the basis of race. Pixabay

Several ads mixed race and policing, with many mimicking “Black Lives Matter” activists that melded real news events with accusations of abuse by white officers.

“More than 11.4 million American users were exposed to those advertisements. The data made available today does not include the 80,000 pieces of organic content shared on Facebook by the IRA. We expect to make this content public in the future,” the House Intelligence Committee said in a statement last week.

Exposure of organic content may have reached more than 126 million Americans, it added.

“Russia sought to weaponise social media to drive a wedge between Americans, and in an attempt to sway the 2016 election,” tweeted Adam Schiff, Democrats’ ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee.

Reacting to Schiff, Facebook said that it gave more than 3,000 ads to Congress so they could better understand the extent of Russian interference in the last US Presidential election.

“In the run-up to the 2016 elections, we were focused on the kinds of cybersecurity attacks typically used by nation states, for example, phishing and malware attacks.

Russian linked Facebook Ads: Democrats to Release Russian-Linked Facebook Ads That Influenced 2016 US Presidential Elections

“And we were too slow to spot this type of information operations interference. Since then, we have made important changes to prevent bad actors from using misinformation to undermine the democratic process,” Facebook said in a blog post.

On February 16, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian individuals and three Russian organisations for engaging in operations to interfere with US political and electoral processes, including the 2016 presidential election.

Throughout the indictment, Mueller lays out important facts about the activities of the IRA, the notorious Russian “troll” farm, and its operatives. (IANS)

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Local News Dry up for Facebook Media Project in US

In January this year, the Facebook Journalism Project announced to invest $300 million in local newsrooms

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Facebook, Data
A photo shows the Facebook app icon on an iPhone in New York, Feb. 19, 2014. VOA

Facebook is having trouble finding enough local news to feed its new journalism initiative, because hundreds of newspapers have shut down in the US.

“About one in three users in the US live in places where we cannot find enough local news on Facebook to launch ‘Today In’,” Facebook wrote in a blog post on Monday.

In those “news deserts” – communities with little or no local reporting – Facebook hasn’t been able to find “five or more recent news articles directly related to these towns” for its news feature “Today In” that was launched in November last year.

“In the last 28 days, there has not been a single day where we’ve been able to find five or more recent news articles directly related to these towns.

“This does not vary much by region: 35 per cent of users in the Midwest, Northeast, and South — and 26 per cent in the West a” live in places where we can’t find much local newson Facebook,” said the social networking company.

Facebook, data, vietnam
This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

“Today In” has been rolled out to over 400 cities in the US.

“We’re also announcing a new pilot programme, the Facebook Journalism Project Community Network, to support projects aimed at building community through local news,” said Facebook.

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According to Engadget, nearly 1,800 papers have shut down in the US since around the time Facebook came online 15 years ago.

In January this year, the Facebook Journalism Project announced to invest $300 million in local newsrooms. (IANS)