At least one of the Facebook ads that were purchased by a Kremlin-linked troll factory during the 2016 campaign promoted the Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Politico reported Tuesday, while others boosted Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) campaign even after he dropped out of the race.
“Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein,” one ad says, according to Politico. “Trust me. It’s not a wasted vote. … The only way to take our country back is to stop voting for the corporations and banks that own us. #GrowaSpineVoteJillStein.”
Facebook has disclosed that about 3,000 ads were purchased by Russia’s Internet Research Agency, and those ads are now the focus of congressional investigators and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s own probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“The vast majority of ads run by these accounts didn’t specifically reference the U.S. presidential election or voting for a particular candidate. Rather, the ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights,” Facebook said in a statement to Politico.
Some of the ads described to Politico by unnamed sources tracked along with the anti-immigration theme of President Donald Trump’s campaign, while others pulled other sides of political issues dividing U.S. political culture. One ad seemed to promote Muslim women support for Hillary Clinton, while another hyped the Black Lives Matter movement — misspelling the name Black Lives Matter, according to a Politico source.
“There is no indication Stein, Sanders or Trump was aware of the advertisements,” the Politico report said.
Facebook has reportedly turned over the ads and information related to their purchase to the Mueller probe. The Senate and House Intelligence Committees has started their own review of the ads as part of their respective investigations.