Facebook Estimates ’10 Million People in the US’ Saw Russia-Linked Ads


Facebook has publicly released information about the Russia-linked ads they shared with Congress, including the revelation that “an estimated 10 million people in the US saw the ads.”

With all these reports recently about Russia-linked Facebook ads and accounts, Facebook’s Vice President of Policy and Communications Elliot Schrage put out a statement with information about the content and reach of the ads, among other things:

What was in the ads you shared with Congress? How many people saw them?
Most of the ads appear to focus on divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum, touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights. A number of them appear to encourage people to follow Pages on these issues.

Schrage says Facebook is doing better at catching more ads that violate the rules, while saying that paying for ads with Russian currency was not an automatic red flag because “the overwhelming majority of advertisers who pay in Russian currency, like the overwhelming majority of people who access Facebook from Russia, aren’t doing anything wrong.”

These are the steps they say they’re taking to address this very issue going forward:

  • Making advertising more transparent
  • Strengthening enforcement against improper ads
  • Tightening restrictions on advertiser content
  • Increasing requirements for authenticity
  • Establishing industry standards and best practices

And if you’re wondering whether those factors would have “prevented these ads from running” last year, Schrage says, “We believe we would have caught these malicious actors faster and prevented more improper ads from running. Our effort to require US election-related advertisers to authenticate their business will help catch suspicious behavior.”

Earlier today, Congressman and House Intel Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff said he wants to release a “representative sampling” of the ads:

[image via Shutterstock.com]

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: josh@mediaite.com Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac