Democrats on House Intelligence Committee release Russian-linked Facebook ads

WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats on the House intelligence committee released more than 3,500 Facebook ads that were created or promoted by a Russian internet agency.

The ad release is the fullest picture yet of Russia's attempt to sow racial and political division in the United States before and after the 2016 election.

Most of the ads are issue-based, pushing arguments for and against immigration, LGBT issues and gun rights, among other issues. Many of them attempt to stoke racial divisions by mentioning police brutality or attempting to disparage the Black Lives Matter movement.

SLIDESHOW: See some of the ads used by Russian groups

Some promote President Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, who ran against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. Few, if any, support Clinton.

The intelligence committee Democrats released a sampling of the ads purchased by Russia's Internet Research Agency last year.

Earlier this year, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians and three Russian groups, accusing them of working to meddle in U.S. elections, including the 2016 presidential election.

The indictment said of the Internet Research Agency’s alleged involvement:

“Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and creating false U.S. personas, operated social media pages and groups designed to attract U.S. audiences. These groups and pages, which addressed divisive U.S. political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by U.S. activists when, in fact, they were controlled by Defendants. Defendants also used the stolen identities of real U.S. persons to post on ORGANIZATION-controlled social media accounts. Over time, these social media accounts became Defendants’ means to reach significant numbers of Americans for purposes of interfering with the U.S. political system, including the presidential election of 2016.”

READ MORE ON THE INDICTMENT | ALL SOCIAL MEDIA ADS

An Associated Press review of the thousands of ads and their data shows how precisely -- and sometimes randomly -- the agency targeted users.

Some ads designed to appeal to critics of immigration were targeted to users who liked specific Fox News hosts, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, "Old Glory" and the United States Constitution, among other words.

 

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