Representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter were in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to explain to Congress how Russian sources used their respective platforms to try and spread misinformation during last year’s presidential election.
The three companies took questions from U.S. senators, many of whom seemed skeptical of the power and influence that companies like Facebook have over the U.S. electorate.
Included in some of the presentations and questions from members of Congress: The actual ads and posts that Russia used to try and stir up social unrest among voters.
Facebook has turned over some 3,000 ads from Russian sources to Congress, and Twitter found thousands of fake accounts that were later removed. Senators used some of the ads and posts from those fake accounts to hammer home their frustration with Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday.
It’s unknown whether or not these ads or posts had any actual influence on voter opinion, but the tech companies are in a major pickle. Either the ads worked, and they are responsible for influencing the election, or the ads and posts don’t work, in which case their business pitch to advertisers looks pretty weak.
When asked if these kinds of posts had any influence, Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch balked. “We’re not well-positioned to judge why any one person or an entire electorate voted as it did,” he said.
Here’s the kind of content, presented by members of a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, that Russia posted online before the 2016 election to try and sway voter opinion.
Sen. Chris Coons showed this Facebook ad first, an anti-Hillary Clinton ad from a group called “Heart of Texas” that ran in May of 2016. Coons claims the ad was targeted to users with a demonstrated interest in things like “patriotism” and “supporting veterans.” The ad was, in fact, paid for by Russian sources. (Other content from “Heart of Texas” has been published in other outlets.) The ad claimed Clinton has a “69 percent disapproval rate among all veterans” and suggested that the “American army should be withdrawn from Hillary’s control” if she was elected president.
This next example is actually a promoted Facebook event, which was targeted to users in Pennsylvania, according to Coons. The event, called “Miners for Trump,” was not real. “[Donald Trump] said he would put miners back to work,” the ad reads. Trump ended up winning Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes by less than 45,000 votes.
This isn’t an ad, but an example of how organic content from accounts with Russian-ties may have been spread. President Trump retweeted this Twitter account, @10_gop, which Sen. Pat Leahy says was a fake account run by Russians. Leahy says that Trump’s former campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, and his son, Donald Trump Jr., also retweeted the account.
This tweet depicts a Photoshopped image of actor and comedian Aziz Ansari encouraging voters to submit their vote for president via Twitter, which is not a legitimate way to vote in a U.S. election. Sen. Richard Blumenthal called it “a deliberate misleading of people.” Twitter says it took down this tweet, “and all other tweets like it,” but could not say how many people may have tried to vote via Twitter.
This is a tweet that encourages voters to cast their ballot via text, which was yet another invalid way to vote. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who co-wrote the Honest Ads Act aimed at increasing regulation for internet companies, presented the tweet on Tuesday as an example of attempted voter suppression, which is illegal under federal law. “Efforts like this are actually criminal,” she said. Twitter’s acting general counsel Sean Edgett said that this tweet, like the Aziz Ansari post, was also removed.
You can watch the full hearing and the back and forth between senators and tech executives below.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.