Evidence continues to trickle in about how the Russians and potentially other bad actors used Facebook to spread misinformation during the campaign of 2016. This last piece of information: the new study, which showed that more than half of the authors of the Facebook ads, which showed the deep political messages ahead of the elections, 2016-from the “suspicious” groups virtually no paper trail to identify them.
And it’s even worse: one out of six was associated with the Agency’s Internet research, a Kremlin-connected Troll farm is responsible for a large part of the disinformation campaign of Russia in the United States.
Earlier this month, Facebook CEO mark Zuckerberg announced ahead of his testimony to Congress that the company would require political advertisers to verify who they are and where they are. Facebook also came out in support of honest ad act, proposed legislation that would regulate online political advertising like television, radio and print.
The study showed that advertising on “hot” issues of culture, from dark money groups and others who are not required to report their expenditures were aimed at voters in swing States. The study does not speculate about whether those ads, ultimately influenced the outcome of the elections. But this is the last proof that Facebook political advertising is a murky world where little
“Suspicious” ads on Facebook are shockingly common
Young Mi Kim, Professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and lead author of the study, a team of researchers analyzed 5 million paid ads shown group 9,519 persons who simulate us of voting age for several weeks before elections in 2016, from 28 September to 8 November 2016.
From this pool, they took a random sample of 50 000 paid ads and searched for any eight discuss topical political issues: abortion, GLBT, guns, Immigration, nationalism, race, terrorism, and the candidate scandals. Scientists have studied how the ads were and who they were aimed.
Their findings: of the 228 groups that run ads on those issues before election day, 121 were identified as “suspicious”, the researchers could not find a trace of them in the Federal archives or the Internet. Page Facebook they fled, for example, were deleted or went inactive after election day, and there are no IRS records to identify them. “We are unable to determine who they are,” Kim, the study’s lead Author, told me.
In addition, one-sixth of suspicious advertisers turned out to be a Kremlin-linked groups. The researchers compared them with the Russian-linked ads published by the intelligence Committee of the chamber last fall.
“I expect we will find some unknown actors in digital media political campaign landscape, because there are some regulatory loopholes,” said Kim. “The results are much worse than I thought. It’s shocking and surprising.”
Suspicious and non-announcement was sent to — You guessed it — swing States
The study, published in conjunction with human rights organizations, one question, and the campaign Legal center, compares the political and issue ads, was registered with the FEC for ads by groups that don’t file with the FEC — suspicious groups, Russian groups, and activist and other dark money groups that do not file. They found that the unregistered ads were disproportionately focused on the battleground States, including those that ultimately swung the election Donald trump, Hillary Clinton, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Racial ads were the most popular in North Carolina and Wisconsin and Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri. Terrorism-related ads were disproportionately served the voters in Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin and new Jersey. Abortion is the only advertising campaign which has been disproportionately served the voters of Arkansas.
Voters with a low income — defined as households with income less than 40,000 $per year — was sent with is Facebook about Immigration and race. Middle-income votes with income ranging from $40,000 to $120,000 $ — see more Facebook ads than the average on nationalism.
There are also racial division. Eighty-seven percent of the migration announcement and 89 percent nationalism-the ads were aimed at white voters.
“Our results clearly demonstrate that political campaigns are not only to be resourceful political parties…as well as a relatively low-resourced group,” the researchers wrote in the discussion of their results.
The study did not stray whether advertising had any effect on voters ‘ decisions. In fact, whether Russian-linked advertising and misinformation has swayed a significant number of votes in the elections of 2016 remains largely unknown. New York magazine Brian Feldman noted last fall, millions of people saw in Russia-linked ads, but we don’t know if what they saw was involved. But Facebook doesn’t show off the effectiveness of his ability to persuade voters when trying to sell ads.
No one knows who is behind so much of political advertising Facebook, because legally it is not required
The study confirms that the police political advertising on the Internet is far behind television, radio and print.
Most of the spending on digital advertising, which only discuss the issues but clearly do not advocate for or against a candidate, even if he mentions them are not reported to the Federal election Commission. In this case, groups that have never filed a report with the Federal election Commission, placed four times as much ad as a registered political committees or other groups.
Nine percent of advertising researchers have identified used
The Federal election Commission is considering amending its rules to make a statement about political communication, including advocacy and fundraising online. In late March, he released two alternative proposals on this issue. Most experts and observers whom I talked to, however, do not have much faith in the ability of the FEC to police online advertising in accordance with applicable law.
Sens. Amy Klobuchar (d-Minnesota), mark Warner (d-VA) and John McCain (R-AZ), in October last year presented an honest ad act which aims to regulate online political advertising in much the same way as TV, radio and print. Facebook and Twitter in the last week came out in support of it, but the legislation has largely stalled.
Facebook and other technology platforms can be subject to know your laws support, by analogy with the laws and regulations that require banks to know whose money they are dealing with and where he goes on and on. And there are several legislative proposals in California that will stop the bots.
Facebook has many problems that need fixing
The results of the study are another example of the many challenges Facebook faces in articulating and understanding their own platform. The social media giant came under control not only over Russian use of the platform in his political campaign of misinformation, as well as in connection with the unfolding scandal of the Cambridge analyst who revealed serious shortcomings in data protection and methods of protection.
And drip, drip, drip continues: Facebook earlier this month halted tens of Russian-accounts and recognized the Cambridge analysts were able to participate the data of the 87 million accounts. Brittany Kaiser, a former analyst employees in Cambridge, announced on Tuesday, British lawmakers that she believes that the number of victims may be “much more” than 87 million.
European lawmakers have been aggressive enough in taking on Facebook and other tech giants. The US only started to take the first steps with the Senate and the house of representatives to such hearings of the Committee Zuckerberg last week. But American lawmakers seem to have no idea about where to start regulating Facebook — even in the face of the evidence, including that suspicious to examine the ads that the Platform has some pretty serious problems.