How many eyeballs can $150,000 worth of ads purchase on Facebook? Apparently quite a lot.
In a blog post on Monday, Facebook said an “estimated 10 million people in the US” saw ads purchased by Russian agents before and after the 2016 election.
“Most of the ads appear to focus on divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum, touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights,” said Elliot Schrage, Facebook VP of Policy and Communications, in the post.
The social network’s post comes on the same day it turned over 3,000 ads to congressional investigators looking into Russian meddling. Facebook said 56 percent of the Russian ads were seen after the election, and that half of the ad campaigns cost $3 or less. Some of the ads were paid for with Russian currency, according to Facebook. The company also noted it’s “possible” it hasn’t spotted all of the questionable ads.
Facebook has faced increased scrutiny after admitting last month that accounts tied to Russia bought $150,000 worth of misleading ads. Senator Mark Warner from Virginia said last week he’s looking to introduce a bill that wouldn’t allow online buyers of political ads to remain anonymous.
Responding to the calls for Facebook to limit the impact foreign adversaries can have on U.S. social issues, the company said “the right to speak out on global issues that cross borders is an important principle.”
“While we may not always agree with the positions of those who would speak on issues here, we believe in their right to do so — just as we believe in the right of Americans to express opinions on issues in other countries,” continued Schrage.
To combat fake news moving forward, Facebook said it’s hiring 1,000 more workers to review online ads.