BALTIMORE (WJZ)– More than 3,000 ads were purchased by Russians during the presidential election and at least one of the ads specifically targeted Baltimore.
Congressional investigators are still trying to get a handle on how widespread the Russian operation was. They believe the goal of the ads was to create chaos and unrest not only in Baltimore, but across the country.
At least 1 of 3,000 ads specifically targeted Baltimore, Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It’s bothersome, they have enough information about our vulnerabilities,” said Ben Yelin of the University of Maryland Department of Health and Homeland Security.
The ads are believed to have been purchased during the late 2015/early 2016 presidential campaign.
“There’s the political discord, where people could be discouraged from voting,” Yelin said. “We don’t know exactly how they knew these communities would be particularly vulnerable for targeting, that question has been left unanswered.”
Earlier this month, Facebook agreed to take the ads that were purchased by Russians and turn over them over to Congress.
Officials say while some NFL players protested Sunday, Russian trolls were flooding social media with #BoycottTheNFL and #TakeAKnee.
“They were taking both sides of the argument this past weekend and pushing them out from their troll farms as much as they could to try and raise the noise level in America,” said U.S. Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma.
“It’s more to undermine our democratic institutions, public confidence in our institutions and I think that could have significant long term damage,” Yelin said.
Officials question how did Russians know who to target and how to target through Facebook ads.
Facebook says they’re now making sweeping changes to handle political advertisements and that it has found and shut down thousands of fake accounts that have attempted to influence elections around the world.