Russia secretly used Facebook to promote anti-immigration, anti-Muslim rally during Presidential campaign(Pixabay)
Russia reportedly organized events and promoted them through Facebook Events during the Presidential campaign, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed Monday, exclusively to the Daily Beast.
This comes not long after news that Facebook also sold about $100,000 in ads to a Russian propaganda firm during the 2016 Presidential election.
A Facebook spokesperson told the Daily Beast that the company “shut down several promoted events as part of the takedown we described last week.”
No other details were provided, but Facebook reportedly confirmed the events were promoted with paid ads.
The Daily Beast reported: “The Facebook events – one of which echoed Islamophobic conspiracy theories pushed by pro-Trump media outlets – are the first indication that the Kremlin’s attempts to shape America’s political discourse moved beyond fake news and led unwitting Americans into specific real-life action.”
While users can no longer see most of the Russian propaganda content, the Daily Beast described one August 2016 anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rally in a town in Idaho that is known to welcome refugees.
“‘Due to the town of Twin Falls, Idaho, becoming a center of refugee resettlement, which led to the huge upsurge of violence towards American citizens, it is crucial to draw society’s attention to this problem,’ the event notice began. The three hour protest was titled ‘Citizens before refugees,’ and would be held at the City Council Chambers beginning at 11:00 a.m. The notice provided the street address and ended with a fiery exhortation,” the Daily Beast reported.
Just earlier this month, Facebook told investigators that a Russian firm purchased $100,000 in ads on the social media site during the 2016 Presidential campaign, and some of those ads specifically named either Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“In reviewing the ads buys, we have found approximately $100,000 in ad spending from June of 2015 to May of 2017 — associated with roughly 3,000 ads — that was connected to about 470 inauthentic accounts and Pages in violation of our policies. Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia,” wrote Alex Stamos, Facebook Chief Security Officer.
“We don’t allow inauthentic accounts on Facebook, and as a result, we have since shut down the accounts and Pages we identified that were still active,” Stamos wrote.
This finding comes during a time when there is a special investigation into the 2016 Presidential election, as special counsel Robert Mueller and investigators are digging into whether or not Russia had influence over and allegedly hacked the heated election, when was won by now-President Donald Trump.
Facebook officials on Wednesday told the Washington Post that the ad sales were traced to a Russian “troll farm” that pushes pro-Kremlin propaganda, and that the ads began in the summer of 2015.
Officials also said a small portion of the ads directly named either candidate, but they did not say which candidate was favored in the ads, according to reports.