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Trump and Clinton campaigns spent $81M combined on Facebook

Facebook's lawyer tells US senators the presidential candidates bought millions in ads leading up to the election.

Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala Former Senior Writer
Laura wrote about e-commerce and Amazon, and she occasionally covered cool science topics. Previously, she broke down cybersecurity and privacy issues for CNET readers. Laura is based in Tacoma, Washington, and was into sourdough before the pandemic.
Expertise E-commerce, Amazon, earned wage access, online marketplaces, direct to consumer, unions, labor and employment, supply chain, cybersecurity, privacy, stalkerware, hacking. Credentials
  • 2022 Eddie Award for a single article in consumer technology
Laura Hautala
Republican nominee Donald Trump gestures as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton looks on during the final presidential debate in Las Vegas in October 2016.

On Wednesday, Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch said Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton spent $81 million combined on Facebook ads before the 2016 election.


Sure, advertisers tied to the Russian government spent $100,000 on Facebook ads around the time of the 2016 election. But how much did Hillary Clinton and now-President Donald Trump spend on the social media platform? 

The answer: $81 million combined. 

Facebook lawyer Colin Stretch told Republican Sen. Roy Blunt that figure Wednesday at a hearing held by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter are on Capitol Hill to testify how Russia used these companies to influence the 2016 presidential election through disinformation and fake news. 

Stretch, who is general counsel at Facebook, also said that only 46 percent of the Russian-purchased ads ran on Facebook before the election. The remaining ads ran after the election that took place one year ago this month.

Watch this: Social media giants testify before Senate Judiciary

Blunt wanted to know how that $100,000 compared to the $81 million spent by the candidate's own campaigns.

"Would that be like five one thousandths of one percent?" Blunt asked.

"It's a small number by comparison sir," Stretch said.

"The very fact that we're talking about it today, it certainly seems like they're getting their money's worth," Blunt said.

A Facebook spokesman said the company was not going to provide a breakdown of how much each campaign spent on Facebook ads. 

First published Nov. 1, 9:01 p.m. PT.
Update, 1:03 p.m.: Adds update from Facebook.

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