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Russian-bought Facebook ads after election sought to divide on immigration: report

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Russian operatives bought and promoted thousands of Facebook ads after the 2016 election targeting Hispanics and immigration policy, according to a new analysis of data gathered by congressional investigators. 

A USA Today review showed that the thousands of ads released by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee earlier this month show a concerted effort to inflame racial tensions over controversial immigration-related topics. 

In the midst of backlash against President Trump for his tough talk on illegal immigration in early 2017, the Russian actors sought to aggravate both sides of the debate, appealing to both Latino communities with pro-immigrant messages and to supporters of Trump’s agenda. 

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The ads and fake Facebook pages, which were reportedly shared thousands of times and viewed by millions, were not aimed at helping Trump, but sought only to interfere in the American political system and weaken democracy. 

“Because at the end of the day, the Russians don’t really care what the policy is, they care about the divisiveness that the issue itself engenders,” propaganda expert James Ludes told USA Today.

Hundreds of the 3,500 total Moscow-purchased ads were focused on immigration, USA Today found, which used Facebook-defined terms such as “Mexican pride” and “Hispanidad” to appeal to Hispanics.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, the investigator leading the probe into Russia’s broader interference in the 2016 election, in February indicted 13 Russian individuals for their connections to the Kremlin-tied Internet Research Agency that produced the controversial social media content. 

Tags Donald Trump Robert Mueller

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