No, Russia Didn’t Hack the Election with $150,000 of Facebook Ads

If Facebook ads were that effective, why didn’t they help Hillary when she spent much more?

The latest version of the Russia conspiracy theory posits that the Kremlin used Facebook ads. Facebook wishes their ads were so powerful. But even if they were, what would that mean? Hillary Clinton spent far more than the Russians to purchase Facebook ads for her campaign. There are many problems with the conspiracy theory but that doesn’t keep the media from promoting it.

The Federalist reports, “The Democratic Line on Facebook and Russia is Crazy.”

The storyline they are hyping is that Russia-connected purchases of approximately $150,000 dollars worth of Facebook advertising – hyping stories and pages to users – over a period from June of 2015 to May of 2017 represents a dangerous threat to our democracy, and a representation of an orchestrated campaign of targeted attacks.


Facebook has turned over the ads to Robert Mueller’s investigative staff, and they in turn have indicated the intention to pass this information along to Congressional investigators – which you should expect to be leaked in a manner designed to create the impression they had a huge impact. We saw that happen this week with comments from Senator Richard Blumenthal, who went so far as to suggest that Jared Kushner was behind the activity as head of the Trump campaign’s digital operation. No, really, he said this, on CNN!


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But the already public reports indicate that this was not some late-stage purchasing of ads in some targeted campaign to elect Donald Trump or target voters in battleground states.

For example, about one-quarter of the ads purchased were geographically targeted – and of those, more ran in 2015 than 2016. CNN reported that some of the geo-targeted ads were about the Black Lives Matter issue in St. Louis and Baltimore. That’s not where Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election, of course.

Facebook has not made public what these ads were. But this wasn’t a Russian operation targeting Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. It was a campaign of chaos and disruption, designed to promote division in American society – and it was primarily a campaign run in 2015, when Donald Trump wasn’t even the Republican nominee. Was Jared Kushner deviously directing Russian ads toward Black Lives Matter movement in 2015? If you think that’s a thing that happened, Louise Mensch would like you to subscribe to her blog.

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