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Thousands of Facebook users in Arizona may have been startled to see a strange warning appear in their social feeds earlier this month.
“Official records show that your voter registration is incomplete,” began the post. “Follow the link below to complete your voter registration NOW!”
But the message didn’t come from local government officials or civic groups that encourage people to vote. Rather, it was an ad from a super PAC supporting President Trump — part of an effort by allies of the Trump White House to mobilize users on Facebook and harness their personal data, in a way that’s left some experts and voting-rights advocates spooked.
The Arizona ad, paid for by The Committee to Defend the President, is one of roughly two dozen such ads that two pro-Trump super PACs have purchased on Facebook over the past five months, according to an analysis of Facebook’s advertising archive by The Washington Post. Some of the ads falsely suggest that Democrats are purging voter rolls; others direct viewers to some version of a voter-registration form, but only after they submit information, such as their names, email addresses and political affiliations.