Facebook’s vice president of policy and communications, Elliot Schrage, wrote in a blog post explaining what Russia-linked ads it shared with Congress this week. The company has been under increasing scrutiny and seen increasing criticism from all sides of the political spectrum about the influence Russia-linked ads had on the 2016 presidential election. Critics argue that the ads helped spread misinformation and fake news, which influenced election results. In his post, Schrage revealed the ads in question covered a variety of topics including gun rights, immigration, race issues, and LGBT matters. According to Schrage:
• An estimated 10 million people in the U.S. 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 U.S. 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.