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Suspected Russian Facebook Ads Were Targeted to Specific States

Facebook ads believed to be linked to Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election were targeted at battleground states and places with antipolice protests.
Facebook boss defends targeted ads
Facebook's home pageDave Thompson / AP file

Facebook advertisements believed to be linked to Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election were targeted to specific areas in the U.S., including a smattering of traditional battleground states as well as states that had high-profile incidents of violence between police and African-Americans, according to two people familiar with the ads.

The ads were targeted at the Democratic strongholds of Wisconsin and Michigan, which flipped for President Donald Trump in the election, these people said, as well as the battleground states of Florida, Georgia and Ohio.

But, these people said, the ads also targeted nonbattleground states like California, Maryland and New York — solid Democratic states that are normally not decisive in presidential elections — and the Republican strongholds like Texas, Alabama and Mississippi the people familiar with the ads said.

Some of the ads were targeted to states that had seen police violence, such as Missouri and Ohio, they said.

One quarter of the 3,400 Russian-linked Facebook ads are believed to have been geographically targeted. CNN first reported that the battleground states of Wisconsin and Michigan were targeted.