Facebook ads previously associated with Russia have targeted key states in the US presidential election. CNN reports this based on its own sources within an ongoing investigation into the advertisements.
Some of the ads are said to be aimed specifically at the states of Michigan and Wisconsin, the sources say. These played an important role in the victory of current President Donald Trump. The ads would have been intended to have a distributive effect, for example by spreading anti-Muslim messages or messages on other sensitive topics. It is unclear when these ads were shown. Trump won in Michigan by 10,700 votes out of a total of 4.8 million; in Wisconsin, the difference was 22,700 votes in favor of Trump.
Several investigations are currently underway into possible Russian interference in the US presidential election. Special counsel Robert Mueller, for example, is conducting an investigation, as are congressional committees. Facebook said in September it discovered 470 accounts that spent a total of $100,000 on 3,000 ads. The accounts were controlled from Russia, according to the company. In a statement early this month, Facebook said some ads were “paid in Russian currency.”
In the same post, the social network estimated that the ads in question had been viewed by 10 million people between 2015 and 2017. Just under half of the ads were viewed before the election and about a quarter were never shown to anyone. Facebook handed over the 3,000 ads to Congressional committees of inquiry this week. According to the company, this decision was the result of “long legal and policy investigation”. Trump responded to the investigation into Russian interference at the end of September and wrote that ‘the Russia hoax continues’.
Facebook announced measures this week to prevent the spread of these types of messages. For example, it wants to make advertisements more transparent by showing which page they come from. In addition, Facebook plans to hire 1,000 new people worldwide to manually research ads, as well as automated checks using machine learning.
The social network, along with Google, came under fire this week after the Las Vegas attack, according to The New York Times. For example, the companies showed fake news. For example, Facebook’s safety check feature showed an article from a site called Alt Right News, which described the gunman as a “Trump hater.” The companies referred to their algorithms in the allegations and promised to make improvements.