Facebook’s Russian problem
Facebook discusses the possibility of Russian operatives misusing the social media platform to spread divisive messages. As of today, Facebook has estimated approximately $100,000 in ad spending.
In a press release posted to Facebook’s newsroom by Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos on Wednesday September 6th, 2017 Facebook publicly discussed the possibility of Russian operatives misusing the social media platform to spread divisive ideologies and exacerbate political, social and economic tensions within the United States, specifically between June 2015 and May of 2017. Approximately 3,000 ads purchased by 470 fake accounts and pages accounting for $100,000 in spending.
According to Facebook these accounts and pages were affiliated to each other. They suspect all accounts were being operated from Russia. The content of these ads “didn’t specifically reference the US Presidential election, voting or a particular candidate” according to Stamos. It appears that the advertisements and accounts focused on divisive messaging “touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.”
Upon further review Facebook discovered approximately $50,000 in political related advertisements that originated from Russia, covering almost 2,200 ads. According to Facebook’s press release they have reported their findings to US authorities on an as necessary basis. This raises further questions as to how Facebook will be determining what needs to be reported to proper authorities regarding foreign entities interfering in US politics during election season as well as what influence this unusual activity had on the election.