MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released thousands of fake political ads placed on Facebook aimed at influencing the 2016 Presidential election.

Officials say they were created by Russians. An expert shares what you can do as a consumer.

“Highly-emotionally triggered imagery and text. The ads were really designed to spark division among Americans,” Social Media Expert with Karwoski & Courage David Erickson said.

An ad placed by Russian agents promoting a group called “Back the Badge,” was one of the most successful. It claimed to support police officers and managed to fool more than 1.3 million people.

“We have to do a lot more research now as citizens to know what’s an actual legitimate political ad versus something that’s intended to manipulate us from beyond our borders,” Erickson said.

Facebook reports it’s committed to fighting foreign interference in elections by identifying who’s behind an ad and hiring more people to review ads by the end of the year. But Erickson said people should study ads before they click, and be wary of anything that triggers our emotions.

“Being highly skeptical about the political advertising you see on Facebook is a good start and asking those questions who’s going to benefit, where’s this coming from, is it a legitimate source,” Erickson said.

Senator Amy Klobuchar is calling for the Honest Ads Act. The bill would require online political ads have the same transparency as ads sold on TV, radio and in print.

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