Sci-tech

House Intelligence Committee releases Russia-linked Facebook ads

House Intelligence Committee releases Russia-linked Facebook ads

Facebook has been warning for more than a year about reaching a limit in "ad load", or the number of ads the company can feature in users' pages before crowding their News Feed.

Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the panel, said it was impossible to measure the impact or know the motivation of the Russian operation to spread political material on social media.

Despite Facebook's effort to rapidly self-regulate in the wake of Russian interference in the USA election using Facebook ads, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he would support government regulation if implemented properly.

Other examples show ads targeted to Trump supporters as well. One page, which included an eagle alongside American flags, was called "Being Patriotic". The ad was paid for in Russian rubles, and cost about $240 based on the current exchange rate.

One ad promoted a "Support Hillary - Save American Muslims" event that was set for outside the White House on July 9, 2016. Instead, lawmakers released exhibits showing only some of those ads.

The ad was targeted at people in the US who had expressed interest in conservative commentators including Laura Ingraham, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh and also those who expressed an interest in Christianity, Jesus, and "Conservatism in the United States". Numerous ads purchased during the 2016 election focused on divisive social issues like immigration and gay rights.

Facebook, the world's largest social media network, again came under the most scrutiny from lawmakers, who expressed frustration with the company because of its role in targeted marketing. Facebook had earlier turned over more than 3,000 advertisements linked to that group.

Burr showed what Russian actors did once they had used such campaigns to grow their audiences, displaying screenshots during the hearing of two pages that had been revealed to have been created and run by the Internet Research Agency: "I Heart Texas" and "United Muslims of America".

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) told Twitter, Google and Facebook on Wednesday afternoon that he believes Russian Federation got a "free pass" for the interference it caused on American social media giants' platform ahead of the 2016 election and other campaigns it has waged.

One Democrat says congressional action might be needed in response to what she calls "the start of cyberwarfare" against American democracy.

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee says his questions about the interference were "blown off" by the companies until this summer.