Information Released On Facebook Ads Continues To Be Of Minimal Significance

With most of the accusations that Russia rigged the election going nowhere, Clinton supporters continue to concentrate on blaming Russian ads for Hillary Clinton’s loss. As I’ve previously noted, the actual amount that Russia is accused of spending on Facebook ads is a tiny portion of overall campaign spending–as well as trivial compared to US efforts to intervene in the elections of other nations. As Shattered revealed, Clinton latched onto the idea that others such as Russia were responsible for her loss within twenty-four hours of losing in order to shift the blame away from her for losing a campaign any competent candidate could have easily won.

Facebook has released additional information about the ads:

What was in the ads you shared with Congress? How many people saw them? 
Most of the ads appear to focus on divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum, touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights. A number of them appear to encourage people to follow Pages on these issues.

Here are a few other facts about the ads:

An estimated 10 million people in the US saw the ads. We were able to approximate the number of unique people (“reach”) who saw at least one of these ads, with our best modeling
44% of the ads were seen before the US election on November 8, 2016; 56% were seen after the election.
Roughly 25% of the ads were never shown to anyone. That’s because advertising auctions are designed so that ads reach  people based on relevance, and certain ads may not reach anyone as a result.
For 50% of the ads, less than $3 was spent; for 99% of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent.

Additional information is provided. The major violation of Facebook’s advertising policies appears to be the inauthenticity of the ads, and many would have been permissible if the Russians had purchased the ads in a transparent manner. According to Facebook, “many of these ads did not violate our content policies. That means that for most of them, if they had been run by authentic individuals, anywhere, they could have remained on the platform.”

There are also freedom of expression concerns which are often ignored by those protesting the publication of anything critical of Hillary Clinton. Facebook addressed the matter of freedom of speech:

Shouldn’t you stop foreigners from meddling in US social issues?
The right to speak out on global issues that cross borders is an important principle. Organizations such as UNICEF, Oxfam or religious organizations depend on the ability to communicate — and advertise — their views in a wide range of countries. While we may not always agree with the positions of those who would speak on issues here, we believe in their right to do so — just as we believe in the right of Americans to express opinions on issues in other countries.

Some of these ads and other content on Facebook appear to sow division in America and other countries at a time of increasing social unrest. If these ads or content were placed or posted authentically, you would allow many of these. Why?
This is an issue we have debated a great deal. We understand that Facebook has become an important platform for social and political expression in the US and around the world. We are focused on developing greater safeguards against malicious interference in elections and strengthening our advertising policies and enforcement to prevent abuse.

As an increasingly important and widespread platform for political and social expression, we at Facebook — and all of us — must also take seriously the crucial place that free political speech occupies around the world in protecting democracy and the rights of those who are in the minority, who are oppressed or who have views that are not held by the majority or those in power. Even when we have taken all steps to control abuse, there will be political and social content that will appear on our platform that people will find objectionable, and that we will find objectionable. We permit these messages because we share the values of free speech — that when the right to speech is censored or restricted for any of us, it diminishes the rights to speech for all of us, and that when people have the right and opportunity to engage in free and full political expression, over time, they will move forward, not backwards, in promoting democracy and the rights of all.

Nobody has offered a meaningful explanation as to how this ad buy could have had a more important role in determining the election results than the far larger efforts by the candidates and their US supporters, including the paid trolls used by the Clinton campaign on social media. Those who did see these Facebook ads undoubtedly saw many, many more ads from other sources. It is also doubtful that having a Facebook ad appearing on one’s news feed is going to change one’s vote.

It is also worth considering that Russia did have legitimate concerns regarding the outcome of the US election. The Democratic candidate (who received the nomination due to a quite undemocratic system which was little different from choosing the nominee in the proverbial smoked-filled rooms), was one of the most hawkish candidates to run for political office to recent years, with many of her neocon allies supporting regime change in Russia similar to the regime change Clinton has backed in other countries. She has a long history of belligerence towards Russia, along with a history of meddling in Russia’s election when Putin was a candidate. Russia (as did many American voters) had good reason to believe that the election of Clinton would lead to a restoration of cold war style hostilities at very least, with direct military conflict a very real possibility.

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17 Comments

  1. 1
    Bob says:

    The Democrats lost by fielding a lousy candidate and ignoring the concerns of voters. Clinton has a long history of belligerence towards Russia. Trump has a history of being in Russia’s debt. Which of these facts is not like the others?

  2. 2
    Bob says:

    My comment above was probably too cute by half. The point is that Hillary, like her or not, is in the past. Trump and Trumpism are present and future threats.

    Btw, Mr. Chusid, nice blog. I appreciate your having content other than politics, though I do mostly agree with your politics. We’d most likely be better off without the Clintons. I sincerely hope they’ll retire from public life completely.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    I disagree that Hillary is the past. She is still making a lot of noise, including with her book tour, to undermine liberal principles. She is still trying to move the Democratic Party to the right with her PACs and other efforts.

    Short term Trump is the greater threat as he is in office, however with the widespread opposition to him, there is hope that he will be thrown out and what he does will be reversed. In trying to turn the Democratic Party into a pro-war conservative party, Clinton remains a bigger danger long term.

  4. 4
    djchefron says:

    Fact: Russia focused heavily on Michigan and Wisconsin in 2016. TRUMP visited late.70,000 Detroit votes were trashed. Russia focused heavily on Michigan and Wisconsin in 2016. TRUMP visited late.

    Fact:the number of votes Russia needed to flip in Michigan and Wisconsin (out of 7.5 million votes total) to give BOTH to Trump was 16,900.

    Now in your hate you and the rest of the slandernistas refuse to acknowledge what Russia did, why I have my reasons but you can continue to blame Hillary who I need to remind you won more votes than the white men who you glorify and that just makes you mad to the point you people are the jokes that keep writing themselves. But I will leave you with this one fact . Slanders will never win the nomination or any of your far left grifters because the base yes those dark people who you want to throw to the curb are not buying your bovine excrement

     

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    So much nonsense on one point. Russia’s concentration on Michigan and Wisconsin changes nothing with regards to how trivial their efforts were. It is rather nonsensical to think that people look at and change their votes based upon a relatively small number of Facebook ads, and that this had more influence than all the other ads. Opposition to Clinton was strong in both states regardless of anything Russia did. This includes Clinton’s loss of both primaries. Clinton made tremendous mistakes in both states, as well as elsewhere. Read Shattered for a description of how she mismanaged the campaign.

    If Clinton wasn’t such a terrible candidate, the vote would not have been anywhere near this close. Politico also described some of the mistakes she made in Michigan here.

    “Now in your hate.” It is not a matter of hate. I oppose Clinton because of disagreeing with her on virtually every issues. I also oppose her because of her corruption and her dishonesty. Having the fact that she was lying to the American people for over a year definitely established by both the State Department Inspector General report and James Comey’s statement (along with multiple media fact checkers) also didn’t help matters.

    “rest of the slandernistas” I assume you are trying to be cute combining Sanders and Slander. First of all, everything I have said about Clinton has been verified by media fact checkers, the FBI report, the State Department Inspector General report, and major media reports. Secondly, this is not based upon Sanders. Sanders is the person I voted for in one primary. Similarly I voted for Obama in 2008. The point is that Clinton presented a serious danger to peace and liberal democracy making it necessary to find the candidate with the best chance of beating her for the nomination.

    “on more votes than the white men who you glorify” This line makes zero sense, based upon your racism and sexism.

    “Slanders will never win the nomination” Maybe not, considering the degree that the Democratic nomination is a rigged process. However, if there was a fair process which allowed Sanders to win the nomination, we would then have both a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate. Instead people like you demanded an unelectable candidate who both couldn’t beat Trump and took several Senate candidates down with her.

    “far left grifters” This is not about the far left. Sanders also brought in independents and Republicans. He had a broader range of support than Clinton–one of the reasons he could have won the election when Clinton could not.

    “those dark people who you want to throw to the curb” I don’t want to throw any dark people to the curb, and neither do Sanders and his supporters. We also oppose Clinton’s history of racism, including the harm she has done with her support for mass incarceration of minorities and the racist campaign she ran against Obama in 2008. For blacks to support Clinton is as insane as white working class people supporting Trump and other Republicans. They are both cases of people being conned into voting against their interests by dishonest politicians.

  6. 6
    djchefron says:

    I just have one question. How was the vote rigged?

  7. 7
    Bob says:

    I agree the Clintons damaged the Democratic party by moving it away from any principles other than fund raising, but don’t have the emotional investment. It’s true they’re self-absorbed lawyers who always push what they can get away with to the limit, but describing them as a criminal enterprise is over the top.

    It seems Hillary’s book tour was the media flavor of the week and is already fading into obscurity. Conservative Democrats have always been a wing of the party, and their influence ebbs and flows.

    We’ll never know how much the Russians affected the election outcome, but do know Hillary was unpopular and had no political skills. Instead of campaigning in the rust belt, she was off trying to win Republican votes in purple states. Instead of pointing out that coal has been replace by natural gas and renewable sources she said “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners out of work.” She was her own worst enemy.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    djchefron, You really don’t know how the nomination was rigged? Obviously you haven’t bothered to follow the links in my posts which have documented many of the ways. The Democratic Party has used rules since McGovern to rig the nomination including super delegates and front loading southern states. They intervened even more in 2016 to change the rules to help Clinton including restricting debates, changing the fund raising rules during the midst of the campaign, refusing to announce the popular vote in Iowa as they did in 2008 as it probably showed Sanders winning, Harry Reid’s games in Nevada, and slipping Clinton debate questions.

    Wikileaks also verified that the nomination was rigged for Clinton and Tom Perez has admitted it.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    Bob, The arguments for Russia’s influence look quite lame as I have discussed in several posts. Clinton’s weaknesses were quite apparent long before she was nominated including polls showing that voters distrusted her, that she was weak with independents, weak in the battleground states, and weak in the rust belt.

    Clinton’s PAC’s are still active and likely to be harmful. Hopefully she was so atrocious in her recent statements that maybe many establishment Democrats have also had enough of her.

  10. 10
    3terms4obama says:

    Rigged, now that's hilarious. Even the most recent polling shows Hillary has a higher favorability with registered Democrats than the Bern (Huffington Post, Sept. 19). Bernie's debate appearances did nothing to help him in the polls, and in NH where he was in the lead he dodged a debate which HRC and O'Malley had agreed to — hiding behind the skirt of Debbie Wasserman Schulz and the DNC rules! 

     

    If you want to talk rigging, how about the sparsely attended caucus in WA which Bern won in a landslide — while the non-binding primary, which many more people voted in, gave Hillary the win. 

     

    It wasn't a secret that Hillary had locked up a lot of institutional Party support in advance, although that wasn't enough to carry her over the finish line in 2008. If Bernie wanted to glide on to the general election ballot without winning actual Democratic Party membership, he was free to run with Jilly or one of the countless other third parties which would have been thrilled to nominate him without putting it up for a vote.

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    Polling shows Bernie as highly popular and Clinton as even less popular than Trump

    Bernie’s debate performance improved as the debates went on. It would have been to his advantage to have more debates early on. There is a reason that Clinton requested that they not have many debates.

    We saw how poor Clinton’s popularity was in the general election as well as the caucus which mattered. A non-binding primary is rather meaningless.

  12. 12
    3terms4obama says:

    Again  Ron, the poll I referenced shows Hillary as more popular among DEMOCRATS — i.e., the people who are most engaged in Democratic primaries — than Bernie. Congratulations to Bernie for being only a little less popular than George W. Bush. 

    Hard to say a contest is rigged and anti-Democratic when low turnout caucus awards delegates while results of a primary using secret ballot is basically thrown in the garbage. 

    Bernie had far more bad moments than good in the debates, and of course you ignore that he dodged in a place where he is ahead. The person in front ALWAYS wants fewer debates and the person behind ALWAYS wants moar debates!!1! Zero evidence that the debates were helping him or that moar debates!!1! would have helped him. 

     

    Why is it so hard to admit that bern was simply not the first choice of Democrats? 

  13. 13
    Bob says:

    I’m trying to keep an open mind on Russian influence, at least until the investigations are finished. Hillary’s trying to stay in the game with her “resistance” PAC, Onward Together, but most Democrats seem less than impressed. The most visible in the party are aligning behind “Medicare for all” and the $15 minimum wage.

    At this point two time loser Clinton seems more a cult of personality than viable politician. She’ll probably have some hard core supporters for some time, but it doesn’t seem likely they’ll stay home when given a chance to vote against Republicans.

  14. 14
    Ron Chusid says:

    You are cherry picking a single rather meaningless poll. There is no fixed population of Democrats and results can vary depending upon how this is defined and the sample used by the poll.

    If you want to look at only hard core partisan Democrats who back Clinton, you are supporting a dying party. This is the group which lost the White House, both houses of Congress, and over 1000 positions in state governments since Obama was elected. If Democrats are to win, they need to expand. A poll which shows that Bernie is less popular than George Bush is hardly meaningful considering that other polls show him to be the most popular politician in the country, while Hillary Clinton is less popular than Donald Trump. Democrats need the independents who poll differently from partisan Democrats if they want to become a winning party.

    It is certainly not hard at all to say that the Democratic nomination was rigged with all the evidence I have already noted. Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton by 13 points in the April 15 Wisconsin primary. He also beat Clinton in Michigan, foreshadowing Clinton’s difficulties in the general election in those states.

    Bernie had more bad moments early. After a few debates that switched and Bernie was killing Clinton in the debates, plus the fact checkers were writing more on how dishonest Clinton’s debate performance was. If there were as many debates in 2016 as in 2008 then Sanders and not Clinton would have probably been the nominee.

    Of course the person in front always wants fewer debates. However normally a political party won’t let the early front runner get away with that. The decision of Debbie Wasserman Schultz to impose unprecidented restrictions on debates was just one of the ways in which the DNC rigged the nomination for Clinton.

    Clinton could not have won the nomination without a rigged system. Why do you think that the DNC did what it did if Clinton didn’t need them to violate their own rules in order for her to be able to win the nomination.

    By nominating a candidate as terrible as Clinton, who could not even win her party’s nomination on her own, the Democrats both lost the presidency and lost control of the Senate due to Senate candidates also dragged down by her on top of the ticket.

  15. 15
    Ron Chusid says:

    Bob, you can’t count on Clinton “Democrats” to vote against Republicans. Remember, 25% of Clinton’s primary voters in 2008 voted for McCain/Palin in the general election.

    One of the reasons that many Democrats are becoming less impressed with Clinton is because of those of us who have been speaking out against her. Without many of us doing so, Clinton would be able to establish the narrative as she has been attempting, and she might be in a stronger position. Clinton is just too dangerous to ignore and hope that she just goes away.

  16. 16
    Bob says:

    I’m not arguing Clinton should be ignored, only that she has a small core of dead-end supporters. They’ll be a nuisance, but likely won’t be able to determine the course of the Democrats’ politics or policies.

    There are subtle but mostly painfully obvious reasons 25% of Clinton primary supporters would have voted against Obama in 2008. It didn’t work out for them, did it?

  17. 17
    Ron Chusid says:

    I fear that the percentage of Democrats who still back Clinton or fall for her lies is more than a small core. It is hard to measure the number. There is someone else commenting here claiming considerable support for her per polling data, but of course he was cherry picking data to prove his case. While Debbie Wasserman Schultz is gone, we still have largely the same DNC which was willing to violate their own rules to give Clinton the nomination, and don’t seem to see anything wrong with their actions. There are still many Democrats who continue to see running Republican-lite candidates as the way to win.

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