This ain’t fake news: Russians used Facebook to help Trump get elected in part by creating events to organize rallies promoting Trump’s various policies.
Facebook has revealed that fake accounts linked to Russia spent about $100,000 on approximately 3,000 pro-Trump ads during the 2016 election, which were exposed to millions upon millions of Americans. The ads promoted what could have very well been actual Trump rallies such as an anti-Muslim rally in Idaho and a series of anti-immigration events. One of said anti-immigration rallies was promoted by a Facebook page entitled “SecuredBorders,” which had over 133,000 users following it prior to its shut down.
What this indicates is that Russian operatives paid Facebook in order to target specific users, which in turn allowed the ads to spread organically after their initial creation. Facebook will not be releasing the content of the ads to the public. One representative told Business Insider that, “Due to both federal law and the fact that investigations are ongoing with the relevant authorities, [Facebook is] unable to share the ads.”
This reaction is sparking controversy from people involved in the 2016 election, who are arguing for Facebook’s and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s transparency on the matter. The lack of a legitimate legal push to release details is sort of a luxury of social media sites, as there are no regulations in place for digital ads to release details regarding the sources and monetary backing of political campaign ads like there are for television.
In essence, this tells us that the Trump campaign was promoted not only by the fake-news stories we’re already aware of, but also by Russian operatives on social media. This will only enhance the public’s distrust of Trump regarding his ties to Russia, and we’ll see how these new details in particular affect further investigation on the subject.