Facebook’s data dump

14 05 18

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A HOPE not hate on-the-ground report: US, UK & European Far Right unite for “Day For Freedom”

Last weekend, at a rally just a stone’s throw from the heart of the British government, the British, European and North American far right employed a tactic that will be all too familiar to US readers. Under the guise of protecting “free speech”, the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos, Gavin McInnes, Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux used the opportunity to spread a vitriolic message of anti-Muslim hatred outside the Prime Minister’s home at 10 Downing Street in central London.

Along with representing a cooperation across the British far right of a sort unseen for decades, by relying on a weaponization of “free speech”, along with North American speakers and a compere whose day job is editor of the London branch of Breitbart News, this was a truly transatlantic collaboration.

HOPE not hate were on the ground that day and below you can read more about why we believe the alarm bells of this new threat deserve to be heard loud and clear.


The Latest on Russian Interference

By Melissa Ryan

Earlier this week, I wrote about what information related to Russian interference in the U.S. elections Americans need before this year’s midterm elections: the Senate intelligence committee report on the issue, the entire cache of Facebook ads that Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) purchased targeting American voters, and a report from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office about Russian influence on the election and the Trump campaign’s possible collusion. Two of those three are now in motion.

Earlier this week, the Senate intelligence committee released the first of what will be multiple reports on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The six-page report covers Russian cyberattacks on U.S. voting systems, explains what Russian hackers did and what their motives were, and lays out recommendations for government agencies to prevent foreigners from interfering in future elections. According to Buzzfeed, “The next report will evaluate the Intelligence Community’s January 2017 assessment that found the Russians waged an influence campaign in the 2016 elections and ‘developed a clear preference for’ President Donald Trump.”

On Thursday Democrats on the House intelligence committee released the entire cache of Russian Facebook and Instagram ads. It’s quite the document dump — PDF files of all 3,519 ads including targeting information with each ad. The accompanying analysis makes clear that the same Russians whom Mueller’s office indicted for attempting to aid the Trump campaign are responsible for the ads. Here are a few more facts from the analysis worth noting:

During the hearing, Committee Members noted the breadth of activity by the IRA on Facebook:

  • 3,393 advertisements purchased (3,519 advertisements were released today);
  • More than 11.4 million American users exposed to those advertisements;
  • 470 IRA-created Facebook pages;
  • 80,000 pieces of organic content created by those pages; and
  • Exposure of organic content to more than 126 million Americans.

A few things of note about the ads. The data dump doesn’t include 80,000 pieces of organic content (content without an ad buy behind it) that Russian trolls spread on Facebook. (House Democrats promise they’ll eventually release that content as well.)

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, broke down the IRA’s strategy on Twitter.


Tweet from Adam Schiff that says, "Russia sought to divide us by our race, our country of origin, our religion, and our politics. They attempted to hijack legitimate events meant to do good – teaching self-defense, providing legal aid – as well as those events meant to widen a rift."


Tweet from Adam Schiff that says, "They sought to harness Americans’ very real frustrations and anger over sensitive political matters to influence our thinking, voting and behavior. They created online communities that appeared organic and American, but were really run by a troll farm in St. Petersburg."

In the report, House Democrats quote Mueller’s indictment of the 13 Russians that says Russia’s initial goal was to weaken American democracy but ultimately became electing Trump. There are a multitude of possible reasons for this — all of which the special counsel is charged with investigating — but it seems fair to say that if your goal is undermining American democracy, Trump is the guy you’d want running the country.

Russia attacked America with a combination of sophisticated cyber tactics. Russians hacked some of our voting machines and ran a multiyear propaganda operation across multiple platforms. They exploited our political and cultural weaknesses for their own gain. The more Americans understand about their tactics, the better prepared we’ll be to combat their attacks in 2018 and beyond.

This post originally appeared at Media Matters




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