The Latest on Russian use of Facebook, Twitter and Google to try to influence the 2016 U.S. election (all times local):
The House intelligence committee is only releasing a sampling of the more than 3,000 ads that Facebook has turned over to the panel.
Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, the Republican leading the committee’s probe into Russian interference, has said the committee will release the ads. But Conaway only released five ads on Wednesday as the panel grilled representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google. Committee Democrats released around two dozen more.
In a memo, the committee Democrats said the panel is working to “scrub personally identifiable information” so they can release the ads.
The ads released by Conaway were all paid for in Russian rubles and directed users to pages that targeted different groups: “Blactivist,” ”Woke blacks,” ”South United,” ”Being Patriotic” and “Back the Badge.”
The ads received between 32,000 and 73,000 clicks.
The release of a trove of Facebook ads bought by a Russian firm show a clear attempt to target the information to certain audiences.
The release included details on ad placements and spending. In one case, one of the ads — a video parodying Donald Trump — targeted blacks who also are interested in BlackNews.com, HuffPost Politics or HuffPost Black Voices. It was shown 716 times and got 42 clicks.
The ads were released Wednesday as representatives of leading social media companies faced criticism on Capitol Hill about why they hadn’t done more to combat Russian interference on their sites and prevent foreign agents from meddling in last year’s election.
Lawmakers have released troves of Facebook ads linked to a Russian internet agency and meant to influence American public opinion.
The ads were released Wednesday as officials from Facebook and other social media companies faced criticism for not doing enough to prevent Russian agents from interfering with the American political process. Many of the ads purchased during the 2016 election focused on divisive social issues like immigration and gay rights.
In preparation for hearings this week, Facebook disclosed that content generated by a Russian group, the Internet Research Agency, potentially reached as many as 126 million users. Facebook had earlier turned over more than 3,000 advertisements linked to that group.
Twitter also disclosed that it has uncovered and shut down 2,752 accounts linked to the same group.
Lawmakers are demanding answers from leading social media companies about why they haven’t done more to combat Russian interference on their sites.
One Democrat says congressional action might be needed in response to what she calls “the start of cyberwarfare” against American democracy.
Representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google have struggled at times to defend themselves against complaints they didn’t act quickly or thoroughly enough as it became evident that Russians used the sites to try to influence the 2016 U.S. election.
The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee says his questions about the interference were “blown off” by the companies until this summer.