Here Are Some Of The Propaganda Facebook Ads Russia Ran During The 2016 US Election

Some are funny, but they're all sad

Most Popular

While Robert Mueller's investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials to influence the election continues, another side of Russia's meddling is once again in the spotlight. U.S. intelligence agencies determined nearly a year ago that Russia had conducted an influence campaign to sway the 2016 election in favour of Donald Trump and undermine faith in American democracy, and details of that effort have gradually filtered out. This week, we learned that Russia's troll army produced digital content that reached 150 million people—half the U.S. population—and now we're seeing examples of the messages that reached them.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The House Intelligence Committee released some sample ads that Russian trolls paid to promote during the campaign. Some of them are silly. Some of them are quite pernicious. And some of them are downright hilarious—if you ignore that they probably influenced the outcome of the last presidential election. After all, CNN found Russian-linked ads specifically targeted voters in Michigan and Wisconsin, two key battleground states.

Most Popular

Anyway, here are some examples.

Here Hillary Clinton is the actual Devil, fighting Jesus Christ himself in the great arena. Could God really lose a boxing match, though? And doesn't that look a lot like Kit Harington?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Again, would the Almighty really lose any test of power? All-powerful is kind of His thing.

A classic.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Here's where things can get a bit nasty, and where the Russians demonstrate they're familiar with the key divisions in American society—and the issues that inflame them, like Benghazi.

Most Popular

The Russians also latched onto far-right conspiracy theories, including narratives about Bill Clinton's unclaimed illegitimate children.

Again, the Russians show familiarity with the animating issues for the Republican base.

But the Russians did not just target conservative Facebook users. They also curated content for liberals, further evidence that they were most concerned with sowing chaos, deepening divisions, and heightening polarisation.

They also identified the lines of division within the Democratic Party, fueling resentment between Bernie Sanders supporters and Hillary Clinton's—even after she clinched the nomination.

And the meddling continued even after Election Day, as the Russians sought to foment resistance to Trump—their preferred candidate. That's further evidence they're more interested in chaos and undermining faith in western democracies than in particular ideological or policy outcomes. The intelligence community found Vladimir Putin had particular animosity towards Clinton, but Trump also represented a bull in the china shop who could cause trouble even after the campaign.

In the end, the Russian influence campaign was wildly successful. But that's an indictment of us more than it's a badge of honuor for them.

From: Esquire