Facebook gave congressional intelligence committees and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee more than 3,000 Russian-sponsored advertisements yesterday. The purchase of the ads funneled to the social network company through the Internet Research Agency, a Russian-based internet trolling business.

Some of the Russian ads were spread by a Facebook group targeting animal lovers, according to the New York Times. The group’s Facebook page was adorned with adorable puppy memes and paid ads. Another Russian-linked page was entitled “Defend the 2nd,” which had gun rights proponents in its scope.

Targeting gay rights activists was a Russian-run page called “LGBT United.”

Facebook groups, pages spread propaganda for Kremlin using divisive issues

Officials at Facebook, as well as federal investigators, believe that the groups and their pages are responsible for disseminating fake news and propaganda on the internet for the Kremlin. Facebook is cooperating with investigators on the House and Senate intelligence committees. Committee members are seeking to discern the lengths that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s puppets went to while interfering in the U.S. presidential election in 2016.

Joel Kaplan, the vice president for Facebook’s public policy in the U.S. said, “We’re obviously disturbed by this,” the Times reported.

He stated that accounts and ads that Facebook discovered seemed to heighten “divisive political issues across the political spectrum,” such as gay rights issues, Black Lives Matter, and gun rights.

Around 10 million Facebook users saw Russian ads

Approximately 10 million people actually saw the ads Russia purchased, according to Facebook and the Times.

Prior to the 2016 election, an estimated 44 percent of the ads were viewed – with the remainder seen after President Trump defeated Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.

On September 6, Facebook disclosed that it discovered 470 profiles and pages tied to the secretive Internet Research Agency, which is housed in St. Petersburg.

Last month, as well, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg conveyed the seriousness of Russian trolling activities, the Times relayed. He stated that many of the tactics were novel or a larger magnitude “than ever before in history.” The scale of interference is also much larger than Facebook has found, he said.

U.S. intelligence committees seek extent Russian trolls went on social networks

Following Facebook’s public acknowledgment of Russia’s exploitation of the service, congressional investigators broadened inquiries. The intelligence committee members want to know whether additional social network companies were involved in trolls intruding in the U.S. election.

Though Twitter disclosed last week that the company found over 200 Russian accounts linked to propaganda pages.

The vice chairman of the Senate’s intelligence committee, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), chastised the social network company for its lackluster search for stealth activity on its service platform.

Google stated on Friday that the company will also cooperate with the House and Senate investigation into Russian influence in the election. Google, Twitter, and Facebook are anticipated to offer testimony during public House and Senate hearings this month and on November 1.

Putin’s puppets leeched polarizing issues, Zuckerberg apologizes

In January, U.S. intelligence agencies derived that Putin’s aim in rolling out the trolls was mainly to hurt Hillary Clinton. The outcome, however, evidences how deeply embedded Putin’s puppets were in leeching on polarizing issues to effect broader discord.

Zuckerberg stated on Saturday, “I ask forgiveness.” He also commented, “I will work to do better,” the Times reported. He apologized for the ways Facebook was misappropriated by Russians for dividing instead of uniting people.

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