The Trump-Russia scandal has taken a backseat to hurricane coverage and the growing nuclear threat in North Korea in recent weeks, but it came roaring back on Wednesday with a new report that Russians were sold $100,000 in Facebook ads during last year’s campaign.
The Washington Post also reported a short time ago that the social media website traced the ad buy to a “Russian ‘troll farm’ with a history of pushing pro-Kremlin propaganda.”
As The New York Times noted, “One question underlying the investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is whether Russia-sponsored operators would have needed any guidance from American political experts” in order to utilize the social networking site for political purposes.
The reported added: “Facebook said that some of the ads linked to Russian accounts had targeted particular geographic areas, which may raise questions about whether anyone had helped direct such targeting.”
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, was quick to release a statement on the alarming new revelation:
The report by Facebook that Russian entities used paid online advertising targeting American users, with the apparent intention of sowing discord and division during the election is deeply disturbing and yet fully consistent with the unclassified assessment of the intelligence community. As part of the investigation undertaken into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, we are keenly interested in Russia’s use of social media platforms, both the use of bots and trolls to spread disinformation and propaganda, including through the use of paid online advertising.
The report by Facebook raises additional questions, including whether other platforms were similarly the subject of paid Russian interference, and whether geographic or other targeting reflects any potential coordination with the Trump campaign or other U.S. persons.
The news that Russia was influencing the U.S. election through the social media accounts of American voters is troubling, and it’s the latest sign that, no, Russian election meddling – all to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton – is not fake news.
In fact, it’s getting more real by the day as the special counsel investigation inches closer to implicating the man who occupies the Oval Office.
For those keeping score at home: Hillary Clinton had to face Donald Trump, a fake email scandal, former FBI Director James Comey, the Russians, and a major social media platform utilized by a foreign adversary – and she still won the popular vote by 3 million votes.