Facebook Finds $100K In Ad Spending From Fake Russian Accounts In Election

Facebook is finding itself in the news quite a bit on Wednesday afternoon and none of it is overly positive for them. First of all, Facebook is being accused of providing "fake audience numbers" with their ads as they claim they can actually reach more people in the United States than actually exist. On likely a far more serious note, the social media giant reported they have found close to $100,000 in ad spending from fake Russian accounts for the 2016 presidential election.

According to the New York Times, there were hundreds of Facebook accounts and pages that operated out of Russia leading up to the United States presidential election which saw Donald Trump win. These pages and profiles spent $100,000 for political ads on Facebook which leads even more to the possibility that Russia had something to do with the overall outcome.

Alex Stamos is the chief security officer of Facebook and he released a statement on Wednesday detailing all that they had found.

"In reviewing the ads buys, we have found approximately $100,000 in ad spending from June of 2015 to May of 2017 — associated with roughly 3,000 ads — that was connected to about 470 inauthentic accounts and Pages in violation of our policies. Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia."
Stamos went on to say that another $50,000 was spent on approximately 2,200 ads for "potentially politically related" spending.Many of those 2,200 ads were purchased from Facebook accounts that had IP addresses in the United States but had their language set to Russian. While no laws or policies were broken, this is going to bring about further inquiries from concerned parties.

Some more news on Wednesday comes from Market Watch that states Facebook is claiming its ads can reach more people than those that exist in the United States. The Ads Managers stated it could reach:

  • 18 to 24-year-olds: 41 million
  • 25 to -34-year-olds: 60 million
  • 35 to 49-year-olds: 61 million
According to the United States Census data accumulated a year ago, those numbers show an extra 25 million people that don't exist.Facebook is apparently aware of these number differences and state that they won't keep advertisers from spending the money to run ads.

Despite the backlash that the news may bring, Facebook really had no choice but to reveal the Russian accounts that spent around $100,000 on political ads during the election. This is only going to add another chapter to the idea that Russia helped seal the presidential seat for Donald Trump. At the same time, Facebook is likely going to have to change some things of their own if they state their ads can reach audiences in the United States bigger than the number of people that exist.

[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]