House Democrats release over 3,500 Russian Facebook ads

Their aims are increasing transparency and protecting real political discussion.

Today, Democrats in the House of Representatives released over 3,500 Facebook ads that were purchased by Russia in order to influence the 2016 presidential election. In a Twitter thread, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that the ads were aimed at pushing "divisive online content and videos." He goes on to say, "Russia sought to divide us by our race, by our country of origin, by our religion, and by our political party."

It's notable that it's the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee specifically who released these ads. The Republicans on the Intelligence Committee, led by California's Representative Devin Nunes, claimed that they had found no evidence that the Trump campaign worked with Russia. Democrats on the committee clearly disagree, and are continuing their investigation.

You can see the ads that the House Democrats released here. They contain examples like the one below, which was created on July 14th of 2016.

In response, Facebook has released a blog post detailing what they are doing in the future to stop this kind of activity from ever happening again. The company's strategy includes transparency on what other ads an organization is running, as well as where they've been spending money, identity verification, reviewing targeting criteria, taking action to take care of fake news, more investment in security and more.

By releasing these ads, House Democrats hope for more transparency. "Ultimately, by exposing these advertisements, we hope to better protect legitimate political expression and discussions and better safeguard Americans from having their information ecosystem polluted by foreign adversaries," Schiff said on Twitter.