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Facebook said this spending represented a tiny fraction of the political advertising on the platform during the 2016 campaign. investigators are now trying to figure out whether Russian operators and members of Trump’s team coordinated in any way.
The divisive themes seized on by Russian operatives were similar to those that Trump and his supporters pushed on social media and on right-wing websites during the campaign. Critics say Trump, as president, has further inflamed racial and religious divisions, citing his controversial statements after violent clashes in Charlottesville and limits imposed on Muslim immigration.
Putin injected himself in 2014 into the race debate after protests broke out in Ferguson, Mo., over the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an African American, by a white police officer.
These targeted messages, along with others that have surfaced in recent days, highlight the sophistication of an influence campaign slickly crafted to mimic and infiltrate U. political discourse while also seeking to heighten tensions between groups already wary of one another.
During the height of election season, political campaigns are among the largest advertisers on Facebook.
Facebook has built a large sales staff of account executives, some of whom have backgrounds in politics, who are trained to assist campaigns in spreading their messages, increasing engagement and getting immediate feedback on how they are performing.
The nature and detail of these ads have troubled investigators at Facebook, on Capitol Hill and at the Justice Department, say people familiar with the advertisements, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share matters still under investigation. Warner (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
[Obama tried to give Zuckerberg a wake-up call over fake news on Facebook] The House and Senate intelligence committees plan to begin reviewing the Facebook ads in coming weeks as they attempt to untangle the operation and other matters related to Russia’s bid to help elect Donald Trump president in 2016. “In many cases, it was more about voter suppression rather than increasing turnout.” The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Schiff of California, said he hoped the public would be able to review the ad campaign.