Facebook says it identified $100,000 in ad purchases connected to a Russian troll operation
Schiff says while that "may seem like it's not a huge amount," it could be significant
Rep. Adam Schiff said Facebook’s conclusion that it sold ads to a Russian “troll farm” bolsters the US claim that Russia organized a social media disinformation campaign in the 2016 US election.
Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said in an interview on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” on Wednesday that the information from Facebook backed up an existing finding that Russia allegedly attempted to meddle in the 2016 election.
“We, I think, already knew the Russians were using paid social media trolls to try to influence the election, try to sow discord,” Schiff said. “This certainly confirms that finding.”
In its statement Wednesday, Facebook said the majority of the ads did not directly reference the election.
The ads – both traditional advertisements and sponsored posts – were intended to sow discord among the American electorate by amplifying “divisive social and political messages,” a Facebookk official said.
Schiff said Facebook concluded most of the ads were not geographically targeted, but those that were would be of interest to the committee’s investigation into the 2016 election. Schiff said the committee needs to look at the motivations behind any targeted ads and it needs to find out if the ads were sophisticated enough to need “help or assistance” from the Trump campaign.
Facebook said the total sum of Russian-based ads geared at influencing the election was approximately $100,000, a small amount in the scope of ad sales in the US presidential election. Schiff, however, argued the amount was significant because of Facebook’s massive reach.
“One-hundred-thousand dollars may seem like it’s not a huge amount, but at the same time, that’s millions of people seeing or liking or passing on disinformation, and that can be influential,” Schiff said.
He said congressional investigators were working with Facebook and would look at other online platforms, like Twitter, to identify potential operations by Russians in 2016.
“What kind of internal analyses have these other companies done?” Schiff asked.
Facebook said it has shut down remaining active accounts and is looking at steps to avoid similar problems in the future.
CNN’s Dylan Byers contributed to this report.