Russian-Linked Facebook Ads Appeared to Specifically Target Michigan, Wisconsin

The Facebook application seen on a phone screen in August 2017 file

The Facebook application seen on a phone screen in August 2017 file

MI and Wisconsin - two states that proved pivotal in President Donald Trump's election victory - were specifically targeted in a number of Russia-linked Facebook ads, CNN reported Tuesday.

These advertisements, says CNN, which cites four sources close to record, targeted specific demographic categories and exploited polemical messages, including attacks on Muslims. Trump carried Wisconsin by 22,748 votes and MI by 10,700 votes.

MI saw the closest presidential contest in the country - Trump beat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by about 10,700 votes out of almost 4.8 million ballots cast.

Accused of having to react first, Facebook is now multiplying communications on this subject. Although president Trump has consistently denied any involvement in the said issue, however at present the investigation agencies are accessing that how much of these ads would have affected the elections and whether the president or any of his co-worker was part of this.

Still, he said it was possible Facebook would find more Russia-linked USA ads as it continues to investigate. It intends to hire 1000 more people to review its ads globally. 44 percent of them were displayed before the USA election, with the remaining 56 percent arriving after November 8, 2016. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has outlined steps that the company plans to take to deter governments from abusing the social media network, the world's largest.

Facebook is making changes to its advertising policies in the wake of an investigation that confirmed the company unknowingly sold ads to Kremlin-backed sources trying to sway the 2016 US presidential election.

The social network admitted last month that approximately 3,000 ads, connected to roughly 470 fake accounts and pages, had been run by Russian groups that violated its policies.

For 50% of the ads, less than $3 was spent; for 99% of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent.

The company said on Monday that it would adjust its policies further "to prevent ads that use even more subtle expressions of violence". Facebook has been asked to present its case to three different committees, explaining the Russian ad campaigns and underlining trigger points such as race to influence the voters.

Facebook has estimated that it exposed around 10m people in the United States to Russian propaganda after calculating for the first time how many members were exposed to 3,000 Russian-linked ads. None of the ads were targeted based on "personal information such as email addresses", the company said. "So, we're just looking at the tip of the iceberg".

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