Russian-linked Facebook Ads Targeted Wisconsin, Michigan During Election, CNN Reports

Sources say about 10 million Americans saw politically divisive Facebook ads bought in Russia, some promoting anti-Muslim sentiment

An attendee stands in line outside a campaign event for Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, in Janesville, Wisconsin, U.S., on Tuesday, March 29, 2016. Trump began his closing bid to capture Wisconsin's winner-take-all Republican primary by trying to address one of the biggest vulnerabilities of his campaign for the presidency: the female vote. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Russia-linked Facebook ads during last year's U.S. presidential election mainly focused on the states of Michigan and Wisconsin, CNN reported on Tuesday. 

The ads targeted key demographic groups and used divisive messages including promoting anti-Muslim sentiment, the report said, citing sources.

Wisconsin and Michigan were among the handful of battleground states that helped Trump win the presidency over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Trump carried Wisconsin by 22,748 votes and Michigan by 10,700 votes. 

FILE PHOTO: Donald Trump, then the 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign event in Janesville, Wisconsin, U.S., on Tuesday, March 29, 2016.
Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

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About 10 million people in the United States saw politically divisive ads on Facebook which were purchased in Russia in the months before and after the U.S. election, Facebook said on Monday as social media companies face calls for increased regulation and more transparency to open up the opaque world of online political ads. 

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and congressional committees are investigating possible links between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia. Russia denies meddling in the election. 

A representative from Facebook could not be reached for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.