Released Facebook Ads Show How Russia Stoked Racial, Religious Tension

Muslims. Undocumented immigrants. Black Lives Matter activists.

These were among the groups targeted in the Facebook ads purchased by Russia-linked accounts during the 2016 election and released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee. Though the small number of ads made public make it difficult to confirm that the ads are a “representative sampling,” as Democrats on the committee claim, those released shore up reporting about Russia’s efforts to stoke American voters’ fears of their Muslim, black and Latino neighbors.

Four of the ads, from the page Stop All Invaders, disparaged Islam with messages about the need to “kick Sharia out of America” and the “security risk” posed by burqa-wearing women who could be terrorists in disguise.

Another pair of ads focused on undocumented Latino immigration.

“Border Patrol agents in South Texas arrested an illegal alien from Honduras that had previously been deported and convicted of Rape Second Degree,” read one ad from Heart of Texas written in garbled English.

“Thanks to Obama’s and Hillary’s policy, illegals come here because they wait for amnesty promised,” the ad, which appears to have been shared over 1,000 times, continued. Another sponsored image from what is billed as a “news & media website” called Secured Borders entices people to join their group with an image of a yellow road sign that reads, “No invaders allowed.”

There is also an anti-Black Lives Matter advertisement from a group called “Being Patriotic” which blames a “BLM movement activist” for “another gruesome attack on police.” While the text itself says that an East Boston man “critically injured” two officers, the image in the body reads “our hearts are with those 11 heroes,” suggesting the one ad may be splicing together information from separate incidents.

As TPM has previously reported, Black Lives Matter was a particular target in ads run by Russian troll farms during the election.