FBI Uses Facebook Ads to Target Russian Spies


Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

Every form of social media has advertisements. It is one way the social media companies get money and the companies advertising promote their business. According to a CNN (cnn.com) article entitled “Exclusive: The FBI is running Facebook Ads Targeting Russians in Washington,” FBI agents are using ads on Facebook in the Washington, DC area targeted at Russians. The ads are in written Russian and were used to get Russian spies to help America by giving them information. The ads were in Russian so that the spies, and people that know about the spies’ work, would click on them. The advertisements do not seem to be made by native Russian speakers because of the strange spelling or sentence structure. CNN stated, “…a source familiar with the ad-buy confirmed they have been running throughout the summer.” The FBI did not answer many questions, but the ads are run from their Facebook account and are viewable to the public.

As shown by the CNN article, one of the ads is a photo of a girl graduating with the words “For your future, for the future of your family” written in Russian. The caption, written by the FBI, says “The FBI obtains the best intelligence to combat threats through information provided by the public. If you have information that can help the FBI, visit us…” When asked how she would react if she saw one of these advertisements, sophomore Meghan McMahon responded, “At first, I wouldn’t think anything of it. But then, if it kept popping up on my feed, I would be suspicious.”

Clicking on the ad will take you to the FBI field office’s website (fbi.gov). The page, in English and Russian, explains the counterintelligence team with an address asking users to meet them in person. According to the CNN article, Alan E. Kohler Jr., special agent in charge of the Washington field office’s counterintelligence division, said “We cannot comment except to note that Russia has a large number of intelligence officers based in Russian diplomatic facilities around the world. They are very active and pose a security risk to the US and our allies.”

The US wanted the Russian spies for protection. Russian counterintelligence has imposed a threat on the US since the 1930s. Social Studies Teacher Bill Leighley said he “does not trust the spies.” Sophomore Alex Katz also thinks “it is stupid that the FBI is just putting it on Facebook. There are a lot of smarter ways to do that. What if the spies are untrustworthy?” A Daily Show video mocks the FBI for using the ads. Trevor Noah, making fun of the ads and what the Russians must be thinking, says, “It must be terrifying for a secret agent to see an ad targeted at secrets like you shouldn’t be secret, and the ad just pops up, and just like, ‘oh my god, how did they know?”