"I question also whether Facebook has put near the resources they need into getting us all the facts". The web giant's reluctance to stamp out Russia's propaganda farms on its social network did not go down well with Congressional investigators.
Although the notice-like numerous ads referenced by Facebook last week-didn't associate itself with any particular politician, it borrowed themes familiar from then-candidate Donald Trump's campaign. The shady organization, known for running misinformation campaigns, must've felt at home on the platform.
Apparently, a known Russian front company managed to use "Facebook's event management tool to remotely organize and promote political protests in the USA, including an August 2016 anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rally in Idaho", which were promoted using ads paid for by the same network of fake accounts.
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The latest revelations underscore how Russian Federation was able to take advantage of extremist political rhetoric including anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment, to whip up discontent in the run-up to the 2016 election, priming Americans for the wave of fake-news stories that inundated social media during the presidential race. Others reportedly pushed anti-muslim conspiracy theories.
Facebook declined to provide details of the promoted events.
One such event identified by the outlet was a 2016 rally in rural Idaho meant to protest the arrival of refugees in the town of Twin Falls.
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"Due to the town of Twin Falls, Idaho, becoming a center of refugee resettlement, which led to the huge upsurge of violence towards American citizens, it is crucial to draw society's attention to this problem", ran an event notice dedicated to an August 27 rally titled "Citizens before refugees".
The organizer of the protest, Secured Borders, an avowedly pro-Trump, anti-Clinton and anti-immigration community, was reportedly managed through a St. Petersburgh-based media conglomerate owned by Russian businessman Yevgeny Pridozhin, a longtime friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Its Facebook page was shut down as part of the site's recent clean-up efforts.
Their Facebook invite is no longer publicly available except for a cached version that said at least 48 people were interested in attending. Facebook hasn't clarified how many of these events were created on its platform, and whether they've already taken place.
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Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.