Fans of sean hannity, black lives matter among targets of russian influence campaign – z news first national gas average 2007

####

The ads provide a deeper understanding of Russia’s use of social media to spread propaganda on divisive topics, which included pushing anti-immigrant messages to fans of specific Fox News personalities such as Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, and buying batches of ads immediately after a mass shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Some of the most divisive ads capitalized on the political movement Black Lives Matter and hot button political issues including immigration, gun control, the religion of Islam, and LGBT-centric topics. The ads also promoted events organized by Americans who were unaware their political rallies and protests were being fueled by a Russian disinformation campaign. A Facebook ad purchased by the Kremlin-linked IRA Russian troll farm and released by Congress on Thursday. Courtesy of US Congress

Some 3.7 million users clicked on the IRA ads, according to Facebook’s statistics. The ads released Thursday were seen over 33 million times, according to the metadata provided by Facebook. Speaking to Congress last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said 126 million Facebook users saw content by Russian disinformation campaigns.

Thursday’s report, compiled and provided by Facebook and the House committee, includes visuals of all 3,000 original ads as well as the associated metadata selected by the IRA, the Russia-linked organization that has been found to be the source of the ads and other propaganda efforts. The metadata for the ads included chosen geographic area as well as the age range, gender, and interests of the Facebook users who were shown the ads.

The IRA targeted a range of people and personalities, from users who were interested in anodyne issues like motherhood or music, to those who followed more politically divisive topics such as immigration and police brutality. Pushing racial division

One day after Dylann Roof killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, a Russian propaganda account, Black Matters, gave Facebook 1,295 rubles (about $20) for one ad, seeking to capitalize on the tragedy by getting more users to follow the account.

“Sadness and shocking tragedy at historically black church in Charlestone (sic). *CLICK TO GET LIVE UPDATES ON OUR PAGE,*” the post reads. “What if America is stil (sic) a deeply racist country? What if the church is not a safe place anymore?”

“You know, a great number of black people support us saying that #HillaryClintonlsNotMyPresident! So this time we would like to make a #flashmob against #HillaryClinton because she is the real enemy of black community and our followers prove it showing their disgrace to her personality and policy,” one Black Matters post reads. A Facebook ad purchased by the Kremlin-linked IRA Russian troll farm and released by Congress on Thursday. Courtesy of US Congress

Thirteen Russian individuals affiliated with the troll farm were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller in February for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election and conspiring to obstruct “the lawful functions of the United States government through fraud and deceit.”

According to the indictment, the troll farm’s operations “included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump” and “disparaging Hillary Clinton.” At a press conference revealing the charges, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said “there is no allegation any American had any knowledge” of the troll farm’s activities in the indictment.

In a blog post timed to the House Intelligence Committee’s release, Facebook detailed a number of changes the company has made in the interest of preventing future misinformation campaigns. Among them, Facebook highlighted new transparency features for advertisements, a doubling of the number of human content monitors, and the removal of “nearly one-third” of the controversial ad targeting terms utilized by the IRA.

In the two final ads purchased by the Russian propaganda campaign in August of last year, the troll farm pushed an ad for its anti-immigration page “Secured Borders” to fans of Fox News primetime personalities Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Bill O’Reilly, and to followers of the channel itself.

The same page targeted followers of right-wing personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, and Michael Savage, along with Facebook accounts that “liked” President Trump and Jesus Christ. A Facebook ad purchased by the Kremlin-linked IRA Russian troll farm and released by Congress on Thursday. Courtesy of US Congress

One ad was purchased less than two months after the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man from Baltimore who died from spinal injuries sustained while in police custody. The post, backed by a 3,700-ruble (about $58) ad buy, pushed an event at Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse called “Demand Justice for Freddie Gray” and targeted only the greater Baltimore area.

Other posts about black issues targeted all four cities, pushing news articles about police brutality and essays about being black in America, sometimes written in the first person as an African-American. Some of the posts geotargeting Facebook users in Cleveland came less than seven months after Tamir Rice, a black 12-year-old boy from Cleveland, was killed by police while he played with a toy gun in a park. A Facebook ad purchased by the Kremlin-linked IRA Russian troll farm and released by Congress on Thursday. Courtesy of US Congress

The ads would frequently seek to smear Clinton. One post, aimed at Facebook users who expressed interest in civil rights, Martin Luther King Jr., or Malcolm X, proclaimed “Hillary Clinton is insane! I know that many black people support this old dirty b—h.”

Another post pushed a petition calling on readers to “Disavow support for the Clinton political dynasty” and remove her from the ballot. Another for Instagram targeted Tea Party members and cautioned readers not to support Clinton, “Unless you want to see America in flames.” Related