Lawmakers slam social media giants for fake news and Russian ads

Nichole Vega
November 2, 2017

Tech firms tried to draw attention to work that they were doing to improve and crack down on malicious foreign actors but were shot down in many cases by lawmakers who called their work to vague.

During a Tuesday hearing with the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Colin Stretch, Facebook's general counsel, said most of the Russian ads on the company's platform were used to direct the social network's users to related pages on the site, where they could view unpaid posts from the groups.

They also included the meta-data, or information the buyer used to obtain the ad through Facebook's automated ad system, from age of the targeted viewer to content they like, and how successful the ads were in getting users to click on them. The ad was paid for in Russian rubles, and cost about $240 based on the current exchange rate. Its average revenue generated per daily user, a number that explains how valuable each user is to the company, is the highest it's ever been at $7.54.

"We have a problem", Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., told the attorneys during the House Intelligence Committee meeting Wednesday.

This is one of the Russian Facebook ads meant to stir dissention in the U.S.

On the morning after Election Day 2016, the Russian page "Black Matters", which was created to look like a black activist group, began promoting a "Trump is NOT my president" event, to take place at New York City's Union Square. Trump on the other hand, may not be a "saint", but "he's at least an honest man and he cares deeply for this country".

InstagramPolitico also has an August 2016 Instagram ad, aimed at "people ages 18 to 65+ interested in military veterans, including those from the Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam wars", suggesting that Clinton is insensitive to the grief of Gold Star families.

The ad was targeted at people in the US who had expressed interest in conservative commentators including Laura Ingraham, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh and also those who expressed an interest in Christianity, Jesus, and "Conservatism in the United States". Among those targeted with the ad were those who liked Gun Rights, National Rifle Association and The Second Amendment.

According to the committee, the equivalent of only $1 was spent on the ad, generating 71 impressions and 14 interactions.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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