Report: Russian Facebook ads sought to stress racial divisions

Report: Russian Facebook ads sought to stress racial divisions
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Facebook ads from the 2016 election cycle that were linked to Russian government actors included messages that sought to exploit and divide based on hot-button racial issues, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The report says that some of the ads promoted civil rights groups such as Black Lives Matter, while others criticized them in an effort to sow division.

Facebook is handing over some 3,000 ads to congressional investigators as part of probes into the Kremlin's alleged effort to influence the outcome of last year's presidential election.

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“Their aim was to sow chaos,” Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand On The Money: Fed chief warns of 'unthinkable' harm if debt ceiling breached | Powell basks in bipartisan praise amid Trump attacks | Federal deficit jumps to 7 billion Fed chief basks in bipartisan praise as lawmakers dismiss Trump attacks MORE (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told the Post. “In many cases, it was more about voter suppression rather than increasing turnout.”

Other ads allegedly highlighted Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton responds to Trump tweets telling Dem lawmakers to 'go back' to their countries The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur: Here's how to choose a president MORE's support among Muslim women and promoted anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant messages.

Facebook didn't comment to the Post but referred to a statement earlier this month from its chief privacy officer, Alex Stamos, who had said the political ads seemed aimed at promoting controversial topics as opposed to promoting one of the candidates over another.

“Rather, the ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the idealogical spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights,” Stamos said in the Sept. 6 statement, which first revealed that Facebook had uncovered 3,000 political ads linked to the Kremlin-aligned Internet Research Agency. The same statement announced the company would be handing the ads over to investigators.

According to Facebook, fraudulent accounts, which have now been closed, paid $100,000 for the ads.