How Facebook ads sold to Russia was extended to Instagram

Facebook had admitted haven sold approximately 3,000 ads to Russian Pages, albeit unknowingly, which helped to influence the last U.S. election, with most of the ads focusing on divisive social and political rhetoric.

While the over 150 political ads ran on Russian-operated Pages during the last year’s election, Facebook in response to U.S. Congress had confirmed that some of those ads appeared on its other social platform, Instagram.

The ads followed same ideological spectrum, touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.

Below are few other facts about the Russian ads:

About 1% of the ads used a specific type of Custom Audiences targeting to reach people on Facebook who had visited that advertiser’s website or liked the advertiser’s Page — as well as to reach people who are similar to those audiences. None of the ads used another type of Custom Audiences targeting based on personal information such as email addresses. Of the more than 3,000 ads that we have shared with Congress, 5% appeared on Instagram. About $6,700 was spent on these ads.

According to Facebook, the ad targeting is designed to show people ads they might find useful, instead of showing everyone ads that they might find irrelevant or annoying.

Though, the actual number of people who saw the Instagram ads remain unknown, Facebook has confirmed that the collection of 3,000 ads might have been seen by as many as 10 million people.

Facebook accept that its service was abused, but promised that internal investigation continues, as they intensify efforts to stamp out abuse and bad actors on its platform. With its new ad transparency tool helping to mitigate improper ads from running in the future.
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