This was the most viewed Facebook ad bought by Russian trolls

The post had simple language, but managed to fool more than 1 million people.

Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
Alfred Ng
2 min read

This ad received 1,334,544 views and cost around $1,800.

House Intel Committee/Facebook

The most successful Facebook ad bought by Russian trolls managed to fool more than 1,334,000 people. 

The post was a promotion for the Facebook group "Back the Badge," which claimed to be a "community of people who support our brave Police Officers." It was actually run by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian-linked troll farm that pushed out more than 80,000 posts focused on divisive issues in the US. 

The same group also made posts pretending to be Black Lives Matter activists and Trump supporters, but it was the fake police support that gave it the most traffic. 

On Thursday morning, Democrats on the House Intelligence committee released all 3,000-plus ads bought by Russian agents on Facebook, giving the full view of the extent of the IRA's campaign. Facebook cooperated with lawmakers, handing over the ads and detailing information like how much the Russian trolls paid for each ad, how many people saw it and how the operatives tailored their campaign. 

The "Back the Badge" group had 111,113 followers before Facebook caught on to the campaign. The ad, which was posted on Oct. 19, 2016 -- 20 days before the US presidential election -- received 1,334,544 views, and 73,063 clicks. 

The nine types of Facebook ads that Russian trolls paid for

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Out of the 3,000 ads bought by the IRA from 2015 to late 2017, this post was the most successful. And it cost 110,587 rubles, or $1,788.66. The Russian trolls targeted the post to people who were interested in State Police, Law Enforcement in the United States, Police, Sheriffs in the United States, as well as groups like National Police Wives Association and Police Wives Unite. 

The second most viewed Facebook ad shows the range that the IRA had with its social media blitz, with a post targeting Spanish speakers in the US. 

The post, from a group called Brown Power, received 968,768 views, and published on Dec. 9, 2016, about a month after the US presidential election. It cost 59,571.41 rubles, or $963. The IRA targeted the post to people who were interested in Mexico, Latin hip hop, Lowriders and Chicano rap. 

Before lawmakers released the ads, Facebook informed all of its users exposed to the content. The company said that in total, Russian agents spent up to $100,000 on ads. In a statement posted to Facebook's blog Thursday morning, the company outlined all the ways that it's tackling Russian propaganda in ads. 

"This will never be a solved problem because we're up against determined, creative and well-funded adversaries. But we are making steady progress," Facebook said in a statement. 

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