Meddling in an Election, One Facebook Ad at a Time - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Facebook handed over vital information on ad buys to special prosecutor Robert Mueller in early September, claiming that Russian groups had purchased up to $100,000 in ads designed to divide and conquer the American electorate.

A Facebook official told TechCrunch that Facebook is “continuing to cooperate with the relevant U.S. authorities” during the investigation into whether President Donald J. Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to snag the presidency.

Facebook may not know the full extent of the ads purchased by Russians during the election season, though. That’s because anyone can buy ads on Facebook with a “self-service” tool that doesn’t require human interaction.

Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos issued a statement that said, in part, “There have been a lot of questions since the 2016 US election about Russian interference in the electoral process. In April we published a white paper that outlined our understanding of organized attempts to misuse our platform… In reviewing the ad buys, we have found approximately $100,000 in ad spending from June of 2015 to May of 2017 — associated with roughly 3,000 ads — that was connected to about 470 inauthentic accounts and Pages in violation of our policies. Our analysis suggests these accounts and pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia.”

The fake accounts, according to CNN, were linked to a pro-Kremlin “troll farm” known as the Internet Research Agency.

What Do You Think?

Do you believe the Trump campaign worked with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election, or do you think Russia acted alone? Do you think these ad buys were part of a bigger scheme instituted by the Russian government, or were the people who bought these ads acting alone?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter using the hashtag #FacebookAds!

Carlos Gamino