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Black Lives Matter ads were used to ‘sow political chaos’ – here’s who did it

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A report from CNN says that Russians bought ads on Facebook in order to sow political chaos by advocating for Black Lives Matter. (Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images)

A CNN report claims that Russians used Facebook advertisements to sow political discord in the United States by advocating for the Black Lives Matter movement.

What did they find?

According to the report, some of the ads were purchased to run specifically in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore. These two locations were where the Black Lives Matter movement was most active, with various protests that sometimes turned violent.

Why Ferguson and Baltimore?

Ferguson was the site of the police shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in 2014, while Baltimore was where Freddie Gray died in 2015 while in police custody. Black Lives Matter advocates used both cases to stir up racial resentment and anti-police sentiment.

CNN's Dylan Byers said that the ads were used to stoke up anger among those who have sympathies with Black Lives Matter, but also with those who are opposed to the aims of the group.

Why is this important?

If the report is accurate, then it would show a level of sophistication in political targeting that was unknown previously about the Russian interference in the U.S. election. It also follows in the pattern of election interference by Russia among Western countries.

"This is consistent with the overall goal of creating discord inside the body politic here in the United States, and really across the West," said Steve Hall, a former CIA officer and CNN analyst. "It shows they the level of sophistication of their targeting. They are able to sow discord in a very granular nature, target certain communities and link them up with certain issues."

Here's CNN's video report about the story:

What do the skeptics of this narrative say?

Those who disagree that this is substantive evidence of Russian interference in the U.S. election is that the amount of spending on advertisements allegedly by Russians was so low. Democrats spent more than a billion dollars on the campaign, and skeptics doubt that 3,000 ads would make a significant difference in the vote of millions of Americans.

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