Russian operatives attempting to influence the 2016 presidential election exploited divisions in American society by capitalizing on hot-button issues like Black Lives Matter and Muslims in America, the Washington Post reports.
Facebook is prepared to turn over more than 3,000 ads bought by Russians during the election, which reportedly show “a deep understanding of social divides” in the United States, according to the Post. The Russian influence campaign promoted groups both for and against Black Lives Matter and also aimed to “sow discord among religious groups.” The campaign was implemented through targeted messages, which allowed Russian operatives to promotes ideologically opposed ideas simultaneously.
“Their aim was to sow chaos,” Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) told the Post. “In many cases, it was more about voter suppression rather than increasing turnout.”
The report comes as multiple investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 election have zeroed in on social media websites, particularly Facebook and Twitter, as significant platforms for foreign operatives to target individual voters within the U.S. According to intelligence agencies, the campaign was part of a concerted effort by the Kremlin to interfere with the U.S. election process.