Thursday, September 07, 2017

Facebook admits selling ads from probably fraudulent Russian accounts during 2016 election


Several hundred Facebook accounts apparently based in Russia (especially St. Petersburg) spent $100,000 or more on ads aimed at potential Trump voter bases on issues like gun control, race, and even gay rights, during the 2016 election, especially toward the end.  ABCNews has a typical story by Jake Pearson et al from the AP, here.   Facebook made the “admission” Wednesday.
      
The gay rights issue is troubling because of Russia’s 2013 anti-gay propaganda law, and because Trump personally has not been anti-gay (even if some of his appointees are). It’s troubling that a foreign power with an authoritarian government would try to stir up hate and resentment in the U.S.



The recent disclosure fits into the “fake news” debate, and the tendency of social media users to live in their own bubbles, which outside interests can exploit.  
  
The story also reminds me of the furor from 2004-2005 when pundits claimed that campaign finance reform laws could interfere with political blogs that are written for free, a controversy that accidentally caught on to me when I worked as a substitute teacher. 

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