FBI running Facebook ads to root out Russian spies

The FBI is running advertisements on Facebook in the Washington DC area that seem to be designed to target and recruit Russian spies and those who know about their work.

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The FBI had three ads in Russian running on Facebook when they were revealed earlier this week, but a source familiar with the ad-buy confirmed they have been running throughout the summer, according to a CNN report.

One ad has a stock photo of a young woman with her family at her graduation, with Russian text over the image that reads, "For your future, for the future of your family." Another shows a picture of a chess set, with Russian text that translates to, "Isn't it time for you to make your move?" A third ad features the drawing of a man walking over a bridge, with a Russian caption that reads, "Time to draw bridges."

The ads direct to a page on the FBI Washington DC field office's website that includes details in English and in Russian about the counterintelligence team and the address of the FBI field office in the city.

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“The mission of the counterintelligence program at the FBI’s Washington Field Office is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States through the detection, identification, and neutralization of hostile foreign intelligence activities,” the message on the site reads. “The FBI obtains the best intelligence to combat this threat through information provided by the public. If you have information that can help the FBI fulfill this mission, visit us in person.”

"The FBI will continue to adapt our investigative and outreach techniques to counter the threat."

- Alan E. Kohler Jr., special agent for the FBI Washington Field Office's Counterintelligence Division

The FBI did not confirm any details about the ad campaign, how many people saw the ads or if anyone responded to them, but they are run from the FBI's verified Facebook page and are available to the public through a Facebook tool that tracks active advertising campaigns on the platform.

"The FBI will use all legal means available to locate individuals with information that can help protect the United States from threats to our national security," Alan E. Kohler Jr., special agent for the FBI Washington Field Office's Counterintelligence Division, said in a statement. "Russia has long been a counterintelligence threat to the U.S. and election interference is certainly an important concern, but it's not the only one. The FBI will continue to adapt our investigative and outreach techniques to counter the threat."

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Kohler added that the Bureau cannot comment on the specific ads "except to note that Russia has a large number of intelligence officers based in Russian diplomatic facilities around the world."