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How to recognize ads on social media related to Presidential Election

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah(News4Utah) The House Intelligence Committee has released about 3,500 Facebook ads related to the 2016 election. Robert Jorgensen, a cybersecurity expert and Professor at Utah Valley University, joined Emily Clark, to talk about what the ads are, and the best ways to recognize this content.

Jorgensen says the ads covered pretty much every major issue: Gun control, immigration, LGBTQ rights and more. Nearly 50% of them were about race-related issues. 

A so-called Russian troll group called the Internet Research Agency bought these ads. The group has been linked to businesses associated with both Putin and Russian Intelligence. They appeared on Facebook and Instagram.

The Internet Research Agency was called out in reports when Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians for interfering with the elections. The reports indicated that Putin and Russian intelligence developed a clear preference for President Trump as a candidate.

Jorgensen says recognizing these types of ads is hard. Facebook is taking steps to vet ads more closely, but he says the best thing you can do, is evaluate this information critically. Social media has become a large echo chamber where people just have their pre-existing beliefs validated.

Dr. Fred White and Professor Jorgensen wrote an article about the Russian influence on the election that appears in the UVU Journal of National Security Studies. You can view that article here. The ads themselves, and the conclusions of the Democrats in the House Intelligence Committee can also be found online at Democrats-Intelligence.house.gov.

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