Facebook gave a broad overview of the content contained in the 3,000 ads that were placed on the social media site Russian Internet Research Agency during and after the 2016 election cycle and that were turned over to House and Senate intelligence committees in early September.
On its blog Facebook’s Vice President of Policy and Communications Elliot Schrage said about 10 million people in the United States saw at least one of the ads with 44 percent of the ads being served before the November 8, 2016 election and the remainder afterward. Some of the ads were not seen at all as the algorithm’s designed to match the ad to the right person simply did not find a proper audience. Less than $1,000 was spent to promote 99 percent of the ads.
Schrage said the process the company undertook gave it a better understanding of how it was abused.
The ads were delivered using Facebook’s ad targeting technology, something it knows can be abused so the company is introducing ways to keep this from happening.
“These are worthwhile uses of ad targeting because they enable people to connect with the things they care about. But we know ad targeting can be abused, and we aim to prevent abusive ads from running on our platform. To begin, ads containing certain types of targeting will now require additional human review and approval,” Schrage wrote.
Schrage said some of the ads were paid for using Russian currency, but that is not a good enough reason to raise suspicion about an ad.
“In looking for such abuses, we examine all of the components of an ad: who created it, who it’s intended for, and what its message is. Sometimes a combination of an ad’s message and its targeting can be pernicious. If we find any ad — including those targeting a cultural affinity interest group — that contains a message spreading hate or violence, it will be rejected or removed,” he wrote.