When news dropped last week that Facebook allowed a “troll farm” in St. Petersburg, Russia, to spend $100,000 Russian moneys on targeted political ads to influence American voters, it felt like the tiniest drop in a yooooge bucket. Then we learned the Russians had created Facebook events aimed at riling up the unwashed anti-immigrant masses to come out to unwashed anti-immigrant sex orgies, all while Donald Trump was running on a platform of unwashed anti-immigrant sentiment. Two drops in a bucket!
It’s looking like Facebook’s role in Russia’s ratfucking of the 2016 election (likely aided by the Trump campaign) was VAST. Let’s look at a few more things we’ve learned about how Mark Zuckerberg’s college computer class project may have been a key player in electing the world’s most unqualified buffoon to the highest office in the entire world.
Senator Mark Warner just casually dropping #RussiaFacts on Twitter, y’all.
Look at this tweet from Democratic Senator Mark Warner, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, flagging a CBS report on the fake Russian Facebook ads:
We tried to find a news article about Facebook literally accepting rubles as payment for American campaign advertisements, and couldn’t. But then we realized, oh wait, Warner is vice chair of the intel committee. HE’S TELLING US SOMETHING. And sure enough, if you try to buy Facebook advertising, you can pay in rubles if you want! #HOTTAKE and #SLATEPITCH: Maybe Facebook shouldn’t accept foreign currencies for American political advertising, since foreign spending on American elections is fucking illegal? There goes Wonkette again, having crazy ideas.
Last week, Warner commented on the initial news that Facebook had found $100,000 in fake Russian advertising, and that it had closed down 470 associated fake accounts. As a person who’s used Facebook once or twice and has gotten friend requests from 25 or 30 fake accounts in ONE DAY, we’re skeptical that only “470” fake Russian accounts tried to fuck with America. Warner agrees:
“I think we may just be seeing the tip of the iceberg. They had a fairly narrow search,” Warner said, adding that he has been raising the issue for months, and Facebook has been dismissing it for just as long. “We’ve seen them take down certain pages. It’s rather minor compared to the 50,000 accounts they took down before the French election.”
So on that note, here are a couple more drops in our big Russian Facebook bucket!
Want to find all the best ‘Jew Haters’ on the internet? Facebook will play OKCupid for you, in exchange for rubles!
ProPublica has a holy shit thing that shows how specifically Russia could target American Facebook users for the purpose of influencing their behavior:
Want to market Nazi memorabilia, or recruit marchers for a far-right rally? Facebook’s self-service ad-buying platform had the right audience for you.
Until this week, when we asked Facebook about it, the world’s largest social network enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of “Jew hater,” “How to burn jews,” or, “History of ‘why jews ruin the world.’”
To test if these ad categories were real, we paid $30 to target those groups with three “promoted posts” — in which a ProPublica article or post was displayed in their news feeds. Facebook approved all three ads within 15 minutes.
Goddamn goddamn goddamn! Now, we knew you could target Facebook ads to people’s interests and locations. Wonkette does that! Usually we are like, “Hey Facebook, show this to people who want to know if Bristol Palin is pregnant right now,” and it’s always like “OK!” so we guess we should have assumed people could use the tool for evil as well. (We have also done this INCREDIBLY RARELY, because it turns out spending money on Facebook ads is a crap way to spend your money, which we prefer to spend on US.)
ProPublica included more of its process in trying to target “Jew Haters,” including this screenshot of its ad-buying experience:
This is all done by algorithms, of course, and Facebook PROMISES to do better in monitoring this kind of shit.
Here’s a more detailed look at ProPublica’s ad-buying process:
Last week, acting on a tip, we logged into Facebook’s automated ad system to see if “Jew hater” was really an ad category. We found it, but discovered that the category — with only 2,274 people in it — was too small for Facebook to allow us to buy an ad pegged only to Jew haters.
Facebook’s automated system suggested “Second Amendment” as an additional category that would boost our audience size to 119,000 people, presumably because its system had correlated gun enthusiasts with anti-Semites. [Ed. — HOW ODD!]
Instead, we chose additional categories that popped up when we typed in “jew h”: “How to burn Jews,” and “History of ‘why jews ruin the world.’” Then we added a category that Facebook suggested when we typed in “Hitler”: a category called “Hitler did nothing wrong.” All were described as “fields of study.”
ProPublica kept adding categories (most of which have now been deleted by Facebook) until it assembled an audience large enough for a Facebook ad and then BING BONG! Facebook approved its ad a few minutes later.
Of course, this is a simply a demonstration, and the Facebook spokesperson ProPublica spoke to said it doesn’t APPEAR this sort of marketing was used much, but pffffft, Facebook is only just beginning to fess up to its Russian election crimes. We’ll see what they suddenly find under the couch cushions in six months.
We’re reminded of a thing toward the end of the campaign last year, when Trump’s digital goon Brad Parscale bragged about the Trump campaign’s “voter suppression” efforts, which included using Facebook to put Hillary Clinton’s 1996 “super predator” comments into black people’s news feeds. So … the Trump campaign was doing it. Russian military intelligence was doing it. They PROBABLY worked together. And Facebook helped!
Russia invited Texas secessionists to anti-Hillary hate orgies, but they were washing their hair that day.
Natasha Bertrand has another fun scoop at Business Insider, and it is that a giant Facebook group called Heart of Texas, which was apparently a Russian front before Facebook deleted it last week, literally COULD NOT STOP DOING FACEBOOK “POKES” to Daniel Miller, president of the Texas Nationalist Movement. But for some reason, even though the Texas Nationalist Movement’s executive director, Nathan Smith, is a freak who likes to hang out in Moscow with neo-Nazis (for real, he went there in 2015 to do that), Miller was like “EW! Stop poking us! Staaaaaahp“:
“When they decided to start doing all these ‘Texit’ rallies, they reached out and wanted us to participate,” said [Miller]. “And we said ‘thanks, but no thanks.'” […]
Miller said the group had heard from the Heart of Texas Facebook page before. He said an administrator had reached out via Facebook messenger when the page first launched several years ago. Miller said a “gentleman living north of Houston” who seemed legitimate “identified himself as the admin of the page,” which at the time was just posting “a bunch of Texas pride memes.”
“The character of the page changed over time,” Miller said. “It got very political.”
Now, here is the part that made us LOL. Bertrand says Russia has gotten good at making its fake profiles look real, and quotes Miller, who says the accounts that contacted him looked normal. But there was still
something about the page that wasn’t right, besides the lack of contact info:
Perhaps the most revealing clue that Heart of Texas was not a project spearheaded by dissatisfied Texans was the language: The memes posted in the group contained typos, grammatical errors, and a general unfamiliarity with basic English phrases.
Hahahahahaha how is that not like normal American wingnuts? Typos? CHECK. Only a passing familiarity with the English language? GET A BRAIN, MORANS!
Bertrand shares a meme from the Heart of Texas page, though, and we see what she means:
OK, the top part? SUPER GOOD EFFORT, Russia! Considering how American rightwing dipshits spent eight solid years coming up with the STUPIDEST names for Barry Soetoro NoBummer NoNever and his tyrannical wife Moochelle, “NO HYPOCLINTOS” is a perfectly legit slogan for a True American Secessionist Patriot meme.
Unfortunately the bottom half reads like something out of Yakov Smirnov’s Branson stand-up act.
BAD JOB, RUSSIA.
Well those stories are just CRAZY, Wonkette!
They are! Yet, we’re pretty sure we’ve still only scratched the surface of how Facebook is complicit like a common Ivanka Trump in helping Russia get Prince Pussgrab of the Orange Pussgrabs elected president. We’re glad Zuckerberg’s love baby seems to finally be working with investigators, but Christ, it needs to do more, and FAST, because we have midterms just around the corner.
So GET ON IT, Facebook, unless you don’t want to for some reason, like maybe if Russia has a secret pee tape of you getting peed on, by Friendster or something. That would be very embarrassing.
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