Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today questioned officials from Facebook, Twitter and Google about the use of their companies’ platforms by Russians to share disinformation and sow widespread division in America. Witnesses agreed with Risch, who referenced specific examples of Russian-bought advertisements in Idaho , that the Russians’ attempt to influence Americans extended beyond the scope of the 2016 elections. Click here to watch the full committee exchange. To view examples of Russian-bought ads in Idaho, continue below.
“So I want to come at this from a little different perspective. The 2016 elections got a lot of the politicians riled up, because it went after the political process. But my conclusion is, … that this is a lot deeper than just the elections. … There are a lot of things that the Russians are trying to do, and not just inject themselves into the electoral process. It seems to me that, after you … say, "What's going on here? … The conclusion I've reached is that the Russians are doing what they've done all along, long before your technology even existed, and that is trying to sow discord.”
Facebook has provided the committee with over 3,300 Russian-bought advertisements and posts that ran between June 2015 and August 2017. Among them were ads that referenced or featured Idaho related topics. Examples of those ads are below. Facebook found that the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) spent approximately $100,000 on Facebook and Instagram ads during the period. Facebook estimates that 11.4 million people in the United States saw at least one of the 3,300 plus ads bought by accounts linked to the Russian government. In addition to the ads, Facebook estimates that approximately 126 million people may have been served Russian-bought content at some point during the two-year period.
Russian-linked accounts also commented on the above ad: “If you invite someone to your home, you expect a guest to be thankful to you. However, Muslim refugees have another overview of the rules on conduct an ethics. Residents of Twin Falls, Idaho are terrorized by Muslim refugees. First, Muslim refugee children raped a five-year-old American girl. Then the police have recorded other instances of violence committed by refugees in the city. Mulugeta Zemu Mana, 32, is a Muslim refugee from Bosnia and Herzegovina who tried to kill three men. After police officers arrested him, Mana told at hearing, "The only guilt I have is the day I decided to come to the country." I hope Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will read his words in the news. Muslim refugees don't want to go here. May it be a time to stop refugees' suffering? Let them go to Muslim countries where they will live in their accustomed surroundings! America is wrong place for Muslim Refugees!"
Russian-linked accounts also commented on the above ad: “24 years ago Ruby Ridge standoff took place in Idaho. That confrontation between the Federal Government depicts the politically-motivated cruel attack on civil rights of American citizens. Liberal media made everything possible to turn this incident into the news Americans forget the next day. In fact, Ruby Bridge case was covered and washed away so perfectly that nobody calls it a national terror act committed by the government. America forces its citizens to keep silent. Remember recent Oregon standoff and what feds turned it into, never forget the untold story of the Montana Freemen and the Waco Siege. Feds do everything to keep us unarmed, numb and controllable. They don't care about the Constitution."