Previously, Facebook was quick to dismiss reports saying fake news speaking on its platform played a big role in last year’s presidential election. After recent findings, it appears that the company no longer things that, and that Facebook did in fact play a major role during and after the election.
Coming directly Facebook, it took to its Hard Questions series on its blog to answer questions regarding the Russian-bought political ads and that Russian ads were delivered to Congress.
In addition, Facebook revealed some interesting stats regarding the ads:
- An estimated 10 million people in the US saw the ads. We were able to approximate the number of unique people (“reach”) who saw at least one of these ads, with our best modeling
- 44% of total ad impressions (number of times ads were displayed) were before the US election on November 8, 2016; 56% were after the election.
- Roughly 25% of the ads were never shown to anyone. That’s because advertising auctions are designed so that ads reach people based on relevance, and certain ads may not reach anyone as a result.
- For 50% of the ads, less than $3 was spent; for 99% of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent.
It’s worth noting that Facebook has never revealed such stats before, and is definitely an interesting insight. On quite a budget, it seems that Russian individuals were able to “divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum, touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.” In total, looks like there was around $100,000 spend on these campaigns. Facebook revealed why it failed to detect the ads and may even find further evidence of Russian-linked ads as it continues its investigation.
Due to the controversy Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg are involved in, the company will make it harder for anyone to run ads related to US federal elections, and build tools to catch similar ads in real-time.
“Our effort to require US election-related advertisers to authenticate their business will help catch suspicious behavior. The ad transparency tool we’re building will be accessible to anyone, including industry and political watchdog groups,” the company said.