Last year, major tech companies including Facebook, Google, Twitter were brought under scrutiny for being the platforms used to fuel Russian propaganda related to the 2016 US presidential elections. The companies had to further testify before the Congress.
On Thursday, the US House Intelligence Committee member Adam Schiff released a massive cache of over 3,000+ ads that Russia’s Internet Research agency, described as “the notorious Russian “troll” farm,” ran on Facebook.
First, the number was 3,393 but later “a total of 3,519 advertisements were released after more were identified by the company,” according to the Committee.
Purchased between 2015 and 2017, these ads were used to target and influence around 11.4 million Americans. The data dump adds to the limited collection of Facebook ads the Committee has released in the past.
The Kremlin-backed agency had 470 Facebook pages which were used to create 80,000 pieces of organic content exposed to over 126 million Americans. The data dump doesn’t include those 80,000 pieces but the Committee has plans to make it public in the future.
For easier understanding, the ads are separated according to their month and year of release. Every PDF includes details like AD ID, Ad text, URL of the landing page, impressions, clicks, money spent, creation date, and Ad targeting parameters. The ads have been redacted to exclude any personally identifiable information.
Ever since the issue came to the light, Facebook made apologies for their inability to smell the fire. What they’ve said in a recent blog post isn’t much different. Facebook believed nation states would go for cyber attacks like phishing and malware attacks. They were “too slow to spot this type of information operations interferences.”
But Facebook assured they’ve made changes to “prevent bad actors from using misinformation to undermine the democratic process.” Facebook has announced new policy changes for buying political ads as well.
You can download the social media ads archive using this link if you have around 8 gigs of spare storage on your hard drive.
They sought to harness Americans’ very real frustrations and anger over sensitive political matters to influence our thinking, voting and behavior. They created online communities that appeared organic and American, but were really run by a troll farm in St. Petersburg: pic.twitter.com/8NabLfv6go
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) May 10, 2018