On Wednesday, Congress released a handful of Facebook and Instagram ads that Russian agents reportedly used to sow discord among Americans during the 2016 election cycle. The ads were made public on the second day of congressional hearings in which lawyers from Facebook, Google, and Twitter were questioned about their responses to interference from Russia on their social media platforms. The ads released show that Russia made an effort to bolster divisions between both Republicans and Democrats.
The examples released by the U.S. House of Representatives target users from both ends of the political spectrum. Ads, for example, feature a Bernie Sanders coloring book, promote an anti-Trump rally in New York City, and equate Hillary Clinton with the devil.
According to Facebook, 126 million people may have viewed posts and content from Russian-affiliated pages. On top of that, Facebook Vice President and General Counsel Colin Stretch, in response to a question from Sen. Mark Warner, reportedly said that the company had not identified the full scope of Russia's activities on the website.
In turn, Twitter had reportedly found at least 2,700 accounts associated with a Russian group that allegedly tweeted more than 131,000 times between September and November 2016. Beyond that, 36,000 Russia-affiliated bots were also identified on the social media platform, and they reportedly tweeted about the 2016 election 1.4 million times.
The ads released on Wednesday were just a sampling of the thousands turned over to Congress.