The massive trove of Facebook ads House Intelligence Committee Democrats released Tuesday provides a stunning look into the true sophistication of the Russian government’s digital operations during the presidential election. We’ve already heard a lot from the U.S. intelligence community about the hacking operation Russian intelligence services carried out against Democratic party computer networks to influence the election in favor of then-candidate Donald Trump. But this is the first time we have a swath of empirical and visual evidence of Russia’s disinformation campaign, in the form of more than 3,000 incredibly specific and inflammatory ads purchased by an Internet troll farm sponsored by the Kremlin.
The ads clearly show how Russia weaponized social media, the senior Democrat on the panel investigating Moscow’s interference in the presidential election said.
Russians “sought to harness Americans’ very real frustrations and anger over sensitive political matters in order to influence American thinking, voting and behavior,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a statement. That’s why Schiff and other lawmakers pushed to release the ads publicly: “The only way we can begin to inoculate ourselves against a future attack is to see first-hand the types of messages, themes and imagery the Russians used to divide us.”