Russia Ran Targeted Facebook Ads In WI And MI, States Trump Won By Less Than 1%

Kremlin.ru/CC BY-SA 4.0

Russian-linked Facebook accounts targeted key swing states with divisive ads during the 2016 presidential election.

After news broke that Russian-linked Facebook accounts bought ads on the social media platform during the 2016 presidential campaign, further details emerged showing that some of those ads were targeted specifically toward Michigan and Wisconsin -- two states key to Donald Trump's electoral victory.

As CNN reported last year, the ads used "a series of divisive messages aimed at breaking through the clutter of campaign ads online".

It has been unclear until now exactly which regions of the country were targeted by the ads. And while one source said that a large number of ads appeared in areas of the country that were not heavily contested in the elections, some clearly were geared at swaying public opinion in the most heavily contested battlegrounds.

Michigan saw the closest presidential contest in the country -- Trump beat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by about 10,700 votes out of nearly 4.8 million ballots cast. Wisconsin was also one of the tightest states, and Trump won there by only about 22,700 votes. Both states, which Trump carried by less than 1%, were key to his victory in the Electoral College.
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One person with direct knowledge of the matter said that some of the ads were aimed at reaching voters who may be susceptible to anti-Muslim messages, even suggesting that Muslims were a threat to the American way of life. Such messaging could presumably appeal to voters attracted to Trump's hard-line stance against immigration and calls to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

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