People in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore Were Targeted by a Russian-Bought Facebook Ad That Referenced Black Lives Matter: Report

Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

More information has come to light about the Facebook ads purchased by a Russian-government-affiliated troll farm during the 2016 presidential election. Ads were purchased that referenced Black Lives Matter and specifically targeted people in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore.

Both Ferguson and Baltimore were the sites of widespread civil unrest and protests after high-profile killings of black men by police. CNN reports that the Internet Research Agency used that information to purchase geographically targeted advertising meant to sow political chaos in the United States.

While a senior spokesman from the Kremlin said last week that Russia did not buy ads on Facebook to influence the election, the Internet Research Agency is described as “a state-funded organization that blogs and tweets on behalf of the Kremlin,” according to CNN. Facebook says the agency purchased 3,000 ads, roughly a quarter of which were geographically targeted.


The Black Lives Matter ad that was purchased appeared on Facebook sometime between late 2015 and early 2016, CNN reports. Sources told CNN that the ad could be seen as both supporting Black Lives Matter and representing it as a threat to some residents of Ferguson and Baltimore.

While the ads did not necessarily promote one candidate or cause over another, it appears that the goal was to amplify political discord and create a general atmosphere of incivility and chaos.

In a statement earlier this month, Facebook’s chief security officer said: “The vast majority of ads run by these accounts didn’t specifically reference the U.S. presidential election, voting or 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 has turned over copies of all the ads, as well as information about the account that purchased them, to special counsel Robert Mueller III, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.


On Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee will hear from Twitter on how foreign nationals may have taken advantage of its ad system as well during the 2016 election.

Read more at CNN.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.

Share This Story

Get our `newsletter`


Rooo sez BISH PLZ

So there is a level of subtlety & nuance here to the way they targeted these to set American people against one another – which has clearly worked

that tells me it’s not a question of whether or not they had help from 45’s campaign, but who was smart enough to help them (because I am not exactly betting on Carter Page).

I heard something about a firm out of Texas called Harris Media, and I’ve also heard that Jared’s key “data guy” on the ground has moved from San Antonio to San Diego or some such thing.

So I hope the subpoenas are flying. But I also hoped Mueller would take Manafort’s passport, when I hear he’s stirring up all kinds of dissension and fragmentation in Iraq, which Putin apparently wants.

Watching Catalonia and Spain just like I’m watching the mess in the Ukraine.


(Sometimes I get distressed because POC don’t seem to have much interest in these geeky type things. I sure do hope the ones who are living in Germany where the right wing 13% minority who was influenced by these same Russian-traced kinds of intrusions has gotten a seat in Parliament for literally the first time in the history of the country are paying attention. Sigh)