Putin's propaganda farm bought around $150,000 in political ads from at least June 2015 - May 2017; Facebook was compelled to share the information and will be cooperating with ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The troll farm in question is the Internet Research Agency, a well-funded, well-established, nimble, English-speaking pro-Putin propaganda unit, and the ads are in all likelihood illegal. [...]
The total money spent (that Facebook would admit to) was allegedly responsible for around 3,000 ads with the potential to reach millions of people. Facebook isn't saying how many people actually saw them.
There were an additional 2,200 ads Facebook said it suspected were also Russia backed; the company has avoided making a positive statement. It's arguable that the world's biggest surveillance platform has the data to connect the dots; it simply isn't doing so for this problem. [...]
The language that Facebook "discovered" this is disingenuous. As if it had no way of monitoring its ad program, and a Russian troll farm blasting propaganda was akin to finding a coin purse someone left under a cushion. Whoa! Who knew, or had any way of knowing? Well, Facebook did.
Pretending otherwise is fool's errand; no one could be that incompetent at running advertising and metrics and simultaneously have the entire industry in a choke-hold. [...]
Facebook's minimizing of the problem, and pretending it's now fixed -- by deleting a few fake accounts -- is like minimizing gangrene. As if the accounts belonging to Putin's Internet Research Agency are a just tiny speck of bad actors and now they're gone, so phew, rest easy everyone.The primary talking point is that the accounts have been removed because, by gosh, they violated Facebook's rules. They "misused the platform" by making fake accounts. Not by actively working against the company's alleged values around diversity. Or by making racists more racist and fascists feel like they're so validated that stabbing immigrants to death or mowing anti-racism protesters down with a car is not just a good idea, but the right thing to do.
Facebook said, "... we are exploring several new improvements to our systems for keeping inauthentic accounts and activity off our platform. [...] Cool, so as long as the real accounts of people at Russian or any other propaganda factories are the ones running ads, it's all good? [...]
Facebook could tell us more about what was in those ads and when -- like if both the domestic Trump campaign, and the Russian Trump campaign were coordinated in messaging -- but it won't. It could also tell us who was targeted with what, where, and when, but it hasn't.
Facebook's widening role in electing Trump