On Thursday morning, the House of Representatives’ Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a vast trove of thousands of Russian-bought Facebook and Instagram ads designed to sow doubt amongst the American population in the run-up to the November 2016 presidential election. The committee had promised to publish the ads late last year.
While a limited number of ads had been released previously, the new cache reveals a scale and scope previously unseen.
According to the committee, there were 3,393 advertisements purchased, which were seen by more than 11.4 million Americans. The Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency created 470 Facebook pages, which created “80,000 pieces of organic content” then seen by more than 126 million Americans.
The ads are divided up by the month and year in which they were bought. Each entry, a two-page PDF, contains the text of the ad itself (sometimes written in awkward English), various ad targeting parameters, and the “ad spend” paid in Russian rubles. The second page then contains and image of the ad.
Late last year, Facebook executives offered many public apologies for their failure to recognize and stop these ads.
“We know we have a responsibility to prevent everything we can from this happening on our platforms,” COO Sheryl Sandberg told Axios in October 2017.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) highlighted a few of the ads on his Twitter account.
By exposing these Russian-created Facebook advertisements, we hope to better protect legitimate political expression and safeguard Americans from having the information they seek polluted by foreign adversaries. Sunlight is always the best disinfectant.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) May 10, 2018
Below is a brief gallery containing a few of the newly-released ads.