Russia Targeted Michigan, Wisconsin in Facebook Ads

The Facebook application seen on a phone screen in August 2017 file

Russian internet trolls used Facebook ads during the 2016 presidential election to specifically target voters in MI and Wisconsin - two perennial swing states that helped give Donald Trump the victory, a report says.

Some of those ads targeted specific demographic groups in the two states, according to sources who spoke to CNN. Wisconsin was also one of the tightest states, and Trump won there by only about 22,700 votes.

Four unnamed sources "with direct knowledge of the situation" told CNN that certain ads were created to reach potential voters in MI and Wisconsin, which ended up providing narrow wins for Donald Trump over rival Hillary Clinton.

Accused of having to react first, Facebook is now multiplying communications on this subject. Also, the social networking giant is facing increasing pressure from the United States authorities to ramp up the security regulations.

Meanwhile, Twitter has also recently shared with Congress a "round-up of ads" that Russia's state-run TV network Russia Today targeted to US users in 2016.

Asked about Facebook giving Congress permission to release the ads, Burr said, "If they give us permission then they should release it themselves". Supposedly, only 44 percent of these ads were shown to the public before the elections, but it was still shown to more than 10 million users. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has outlined steps that the company plans to take to deter governments from abusing the social media network, the world's largest.

Schiff told CNN that the intelligence committee would be investigating the MI and Wisconsin posts, which were reportedly part of Russia's massive ad campaign. The company said it found 450 accounts and about $100,000 was spent on the ads.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has also called on representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet, the Google parent company, to testify in a public hearing on November 1. Facebook has already revealed that the 3,000 ads (viewed by roughly 10 million people) focused on "divisive social political messages", including issues about race, LGBT topics, immigration, and gun rights. "So, we're just looking at the tip of the iceberg".

Facebook has strict community guidelines and even stricter guidelines for advertisers, which prevents them from posting ads with shocking content, direct threats, and sale or use of weapons.



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