Published: Wed, October 04, 2017
IT | By Amos Hawkins

Russian-Linked Ads Didn't Reach Most Facebook Users Until AFTER Election Day

Russian-Linked Ads Didn't Reach Most Facebook Users Until AFTER Election Day

The US intelligence community said Russian Federation interfered in the election and a number of congressional panels are investigating its involvement and whether members of the Trump campaign participated.

Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared an apology because of manipulation of people over political ads. This is likely because its auction is designed so that ads only reach people based on relevance, and those ads just didn't make the cut.

Fewer than half of the ads - which ran between 2015 and 2017 - were seen before the election, with 56 percent of them seen after the election. Nor has Facebook targeted any new advertising restrictions against the news network, a spokesman for the social giant told Recode, before adding they are monitoring the situation.

"What Facebook has found thus far have been ads that were funded by money that could be directly tracked back to Russian Federation", said Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, Monday.

The company already has given similar material to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Russian meddling.

The move comes almost one month after Facebook representatives informed lawmakers about the ads, and a week-and-a-half after CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to hand over them over amid mounting pressure from Democratic Senators. The company said it sold $100,000 worth of ads to these sources.

Schrage, Facebook vice president for policy and communications, said in the blog post that the ads included "political messages across the ideological spectrum". He said for 99 percent of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent.

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Some of the ads were paid for in Russian currency.

Now, to increase transparency and accountability of advertisers, Facebook will also be showing what other ads are run by the page - immaterial of whether you figure in the advertiser's target audience or not.

In a bid to strengthen their manual review process, the company is hiring 1,000 people to join their global ads review team.

Facebook had always been adamant that its platform hadn't been used by Russian Federation to spread propaganda relating to the presidential election, something that it has since had to admit it was wrong about.

It's hard to say if this would have affected the result of the election, because the United States has a complicated democratic system not rooted in popular vote - but Facebook may have the data to make an educated guess as to its own impact. None of the companies has said if it will attend the hearing.

Facebook's decision to give the ads to Congress - including the Senate and House Intelligence committees and the Judiciary Committee - means the pressure will now be on Congress to release the ads to the public.

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