Facebook just announced it found $100,000 in incendiary ads aimed at Americans during the 2016 election, run by hundreds of fake accounts linked to a shadowy Russian “troll farm.”1
Depending on the wording of the ads, the Russian agents may have violated laws banning foreign nationals from attempting to influence U.S. elections – but Facebook is refusing to share copies of the ads with the public.
Sign the petition to Facebook: The public deserves to get to the bottom of the attacks on our democracy in 2016. Publicly release the content of the ads secretly sponsored by Russian nationals.
Foreign nationals or governments are strictly banned under federal election law from contributing to U.S. candidates or making expenditures to influence U.S. elections. It’s also illegal for Americans to solicit or coordinate with that activity.
Many of the ads Facebook just uncovered were geotargeted to specific locations and many mentioned candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton by name. And they were all linked to a notorious, Kremlin-linked “troll farm” in Russia named the Internet Research Agency.
These ads seem very likely to cross the legal line, but it all depends on the content of the ads, exactly what Facebook won’t release.
The content of these ads would be invaluable for legal experts, reporters, and public interest groups working to get to the bottom of the attempts to undermine our elections – and to help protect our democracy from future attacks.
Tell Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: Publicly release the recently uncovered Facebook ads secretly sponsored by Russian agents.
These shocking revelations come after Facebook denied for months that Russian nationals had run any paid ads through their system to influence the election.2
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg even called it a “pretty crazy idea” to think misinformation on Facebook played any role in the campaign result!3
In June, Demand Progress’s Rootstrikers project delivered more than 200,000 petition signatures to the Federal Election Commission calling for an investigation into whether Russian hacking and social media activity violated federal election laws, and whether the Trump campaign illegally colluded with their efforts.
Now, as an organization representing internet users, we’re calling on Facebook itself to step up.
After positioning itself as an online “town square” where Americans should spend much of their democratic life, Facebook should act to help the country get to the bottom of the recent attacks on our democracy.
Sign the petition: Facebook must publicly release the ads it uncovered that were secretly sponsored by Kremlin-linked Russian nationals.
1. Washington Post, "Russian firm tied to pro-Kremlin propaganda advertised on Facebook during election," September 9th, 2017.
2. The Verge, "Why we can’t trust Facebook’s story about Russian ads," September 8th, 2017
3. The Guardian, "Facebook's fake news: Mark Zuckerberg rejects 'crazy idea' that it swayed voters," November 10th, 2016.