Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released a trove of Russian-related election metadata and Facebook ads, including one reading "Hillary is a satan."
The ads are just a sample of the 3,000 ads Facebook said were bought by Russian actors who sought to cause domestic friction ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.
In September, Facebook announced it had found more than 3,000 ads purchased by 470 accounts and pages linked to the International Research Agency, a Russian troll farm, in St. Petersburg. Those have since been shut down.
In the "Army for Jesus" ad, those targeted included Facebook users with interests like "God," "Laura Ingraham" and "Conservatism in the United States." The ad, which cost about $1, ran in October 2016 for 24 hours, had 71 impressions and garnered 14 clicks.
But Democrats insisted Russia's effort shows why the U.S. needs to prevent Russia from releasing these ads.
“Russia exploited real vulnerabilities that exist across online platforms and we must identify, expose, and defend ourselves against similar covert influence operations in the future,” Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said during Wednesday's hearing on Russian influence.
Facebook told the Senate Intelligence Committee that 150 million Facebook and Instagram users saw Russian-backed election content.
Another Facebook ad from a Russia-backed group called "LGBT United" shows Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders in a thong flexing outside of the White House, covered in rainbow colors with text showing a divide between Sanders and his rival for the nomination, Hillary Clinton.
That ran for 24 hours in March 2016 and cost about $2, and garnered had 900 impressions and garnered 54 clicks. The ad was targeted to people who liked the "LGBT United" page or had friends who liked it.
“Most fake accounts are caught automatically,” Colin Stretch of Facebook told the House panel Wednesday afternoon of fake accounts originating outside of the U.S. “Many millions of them – our systems catch most of them automatically. They generally do come from particular regions of the world. And they are generally financially motivated.”
“And so, those systems have been in development for some time, they’re’ effective and we continually have to improve them. What makes this threat so insidious is that, these were carefully constructed profiles that I think were maintained and curated to appear very authentic, including disguising, in most cases, not all but in most cases, their geographic origin.”