Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe has spent nearly $100,000 advertising “fake news” websites on Facebook during the Virginia gubernatorial campaign, according to Fox News.
“The Democrat’s advertisements, which have been viewed up to 3.5 million times so far, are hidden on a Facebook page with a similar name to a local news website,” the report says. “The ads link to third-party websites that ostensibly publish local news, but exist to promote Democratic candidates. The websites have been widely described as disinformation and ‘partisan propaganda.'”
McAuliffe is locked in tight battle for the governor’s race, with a week away, with Republican Glenn Youngkin.
The Fox report called the McAuliffe ads “sophisticated and opaque.”
McAuliffe operates a Facebook page under his own name to promote his campaign. But the former governor also operates another Facebook page that blurs the lines between a political campaign and disinformation.
“The page is called ‘The Download Virginia,’ and it was quietly launched by McAuliffe in June. While the name of the page sounds similar to that of a news organization, the page has not published any posts or photos, and only 67 people have ‘liked’ the page (a term Facebook uses to describe followers).”
Instead, most voters who have encountered “The Download” have done so through paid advertising. The ads do not appear on the page itself but can be obtained through a Facebook Ad Library Report, a tool used by journalists and researchers. The McAuliffe campaign has spent $471,044 on ads distributed by this page since June.
“The advertisements generally contain a comment and a link to a mainstream news article that covers the campaign favorably. But sprinkled among the links to legitimate media are seven separate advertisements (and dozens of variations) that promote websites widely considered to be ‘fake news.'”
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