“Last year, the bipartisan leaders of the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation made a commitment to the American people to publicly release the Facebook advertisements used by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency, so that Americans can begin to understand how Russia used social media to influence the 2016 election, and to divide us. Today, the Committee’s Minority is fulfilling that promise.
There’s no question that Russia sought to weaponize social media platforms to drive a wedge between Americans, and in an attempt to sway the 2016 election. They did this by creating fake accounts, pages and communities to push divisive online content and videos, and to mobilize real Americans, unwittingly, to sign online petitions and join rallies and protests. Russia sought to divide us by our race, by our country of origin, by our religion, and by our political party.
They attempted to hijack legitimate events meant to do good – teaching self-defense, providing legal aid – in support of their malign object. They sought to harness Americans’ very real frustrations and anger over sensitive political matters in order to influence American thinking, voting and behavior. This was accomplished by engaging in online communities built around common interests and that appeared organic and American, but were actually run by a troll farm in St. Petersburg.
Since our open hearing in November 2017, we have worked closely with Facebook to ensure that the American people can see the full extent of Russia’s malign use of social media. The only way we can begin to inoculate ourselves against a future attack is to see first-hand the types of messages, themes and imagery the Russians used to divide us.
Facebook worked with us to ensure this information became public, redacting an appropriate amount of personally identifiable information to protect legitimate users and children, and giving advance notice to users whose events were unwittingly promoted by the IRA. Ultimately, by exposing these advertisements, we hope to better protect legitimate political expression and discussions and better safeguard Americans from having their information ecosystem polluted by foreign adversaries.
We will continue to work with Facebook and other tech companies to expose additional content, advertisements, and information as our investigation progresses.”