The Russian government reportedly used Black Lives Matter as a tool to create political discord during the 2016 presidential campaign.
CNN reports that a Russian government-back agency bought at least one Facebook ad that referenced Black Lives Matter, and used it to target audiences in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri.
A source told CNN that the ad was intentionally vague, appearing to support the movement but also suggesting that Black Lives Matter poses a threat to residents.
The goal of the ad was to create a sense of chaos, which presumably required a candidate (like Donald Trump) who would use a heavy hand to remove the threat.
Ferguson and Baltimore were flashpoints during the widespread demonstrations against police brutality and the killing of unarmed Black men by White officers. Anger in those cities exploded into riots.
CNN said this revelation offers insight into how the Russians used geographically targeted advertising during the presidential election. About 25 percent of the 3,000 ads bought by the Russian-backed organization, known as the Internet Research Agency, used geographic targeting.
That raises questions, according to the news outlet, about how the Russians knew where to place the ads and about messaging. It suggests to many that there could have been collusion between the Trump campaign and the ad buyers.
A Russian government spokesperson denied that the Kremlin bought Facebook ads to influence the election. However, U.S. intelligence concluded that Russia funds the agency, which uses Twitter and other social media on behalf of the Kremlin, CNN reported.