The batch of more than 3,000 Russian-bought ads that Facebook is preparing to turn over to Congress shows a deep understanding of social divides in American society, with some ads promoting African American rights groups, including Black Lives Matter, and others suggesting that these same groups pose a rising political threat, say people familiar with the covert influence campaign.
The Russian campaign — taking advantage of Facebook’s ability to send contrary messages to different groups of users based on their political and demographic characteristics — also sought to sow discord among religious groups. Other ads highlighted support for Democrat Hillary Clinton among Muslim women.
…The divisive themes seized on by Russian operatives were similar to those that Trump and his supporters pushed on social media and on right-wing websites during the campaign. U.S. investigators are now trying to figure out whether Russian operators and members of Trump’s team coordinated in any way.
…In addition to the ads described to The Post, Russian operatives used Facebook to promote anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim messages. And Facebook has said that one-quarter of the ads bought by the Russian operatives identified so far targeted a particular geographic area.