DETROIT (WWJ) – An admission by Facebook that ads displayed on their social media site pre and post election are Russian backed and may still be popping up in your feed.
A report by CNN this week said the Russian ads targeted pivotal states like Michigan and Wisconsin before the 2016 presidential election — with about 10 million eyes seeing at least one of the 3,000 political ads it says were bought by accounts linked to the Russian government.
Michigan and Wisconsin were crucial to Republican Donald Trump’s victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in November.
Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president for policy and communications saying in a statement that most of the ads appear to focus on divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum, touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights. A number of them appear to encourage people to follow Pages on these issues.
It appears the Russians saw an advertising bargain and jumped on it — according to Facebook 50 percent of the ads cost less than $3 — for 99 percent of the ads less than a $1000 was spent. Some of the ads purchased with Russian currency.
“Forty-four percent of the ads were seen before the U.S. election on Nov. 8, 2016, fifty-six percent were seen after the election,” Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president for policy and communications, said in a new post on Monday.
Facebook says it’s working to expose more of the “bad actors” involved in the ads — but pure volume means they won’t catch them all and expect that we are still seeing the work of Russian backed fake ads in our daily Facebook feed.
Michigan saw the closest presidential contest in the country — Trump beat Clinton by about 10,700 votes out of nearly 4.8 million ballots cast. Wisconsin was also one of the tightest states, and Trump won there by only about 22,700 votes. Both states, which Trump carried by less than 1%, were key to his victory in the Electoral College notes the CNN report.