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Most Russia-linked Facebook Ads Appeared to Users After the Election

Documents Facebook handed over to Congress regarding the Russia-linked political ads during the 2016 election show that more than half of the 10 million Americans who saw them only did so after November 8. 

In a write-up about the data, Elliot Schrage, the vice president of policy and communications, explained that 44 percent of the times the ads were displayed occurred before the election, while 56 percent were after the election. 

The ads, he said, focused on divisive social and political issues, ranging from LGBT topics to immigration and gun rights. 

The Washington Post reported one of the ads featured “photographs of an armed black woman ‘dry firing’ a rifle — pulling the trigger of the weapon without a bullet in the chamber.”

Investigators familiar with the ad told WaPo it was meant “to encourage African American militancy and, at the same time, to stoke fears within white communities.” (DC)

Twenty-five percent of the ads were never even shown to anyone “because advertising auctions are designed so that ads reach people based on relevance, and certain ads may not reach anyone as a result,” Schrage explained.

On Monday, Facebook gave Congress approximately 3,000 Russia-linked ads. The company said it sold $100,000 worth of ads to these sources.

Twitter also told Congress it sold more than $274,000 worth of ads to RT, a Russian state run news organization. The social media platform also said it discovered roughly 200 Russian-linked accounts based on Facebook’s findings.

Schrage also said it's possible there are more ads that they haven't found. 

"We’re still looking for abuse and bad actors on our platform — our internal investigation continues," he said. "We hope that by cooperating with Congress, the Special Counsel and our industry partners, we will help keep bad actors off our platform."

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