SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Chris Stewart says cyberwarfare is a "fair description" of the ads Russian operatives placed on Facebook to influence American voter behavior.
The Utah Republican said the posts were not designed to promote Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, but to cause division and animosity as well as distrust in democracy.
"It’s not like, 'This is Igor. Please vote for Hillary.' It’s not something that obvious," Stewart said Thursday on KSL Newsradio.
"They weren’t trying to help one candidate," he said. "They were just trying to help us be angry at each other."
Millions of Americans were exposed to the Facebook ads and posts generated to exploit divisions on controversial topics and affect voter behavior. The House Intelligence Committee, of which Stewart is a member, released some of the ads during a hearing Wednesday.
At a Senate Intelligence Committee meeting Tuesday, lawmakers staked out partisan positions on the legitimacy of the 2016 presidential campaign, either defending President Trump’s election or asserting that his narrow victory could have been delivered by Russian efforts on social media, according to the New York Times.
Republicans strongly pushed back on the notion that Facebook, Google and Twitter were responsible for the election results.7 comments on this story
"How in the world do these companies that have hundreds of millions of users, billions of different posts, they just simply can't monitor everything that’s on them," Stewart said.
Ads placed from a Russian address or paid for with foreign currency are obvious red flags, he said.
"But much beyond that it becomes very difficult. I just don’t think they’ve really shown the commitment to helping in this up to this point," the congressman said.
Stewart said he believes this is just the beginning of a real challenge facing the U.S.