Facebook is making public some of the details it shared with Congress Monday about the ads purchased by Russians on its platform during the 2016 election, including that an estimated 10 million people saw the ads.
Timing: Facebook unveiled the information publicly shortly after it handed over the ads to Congress, likely getting ahead of any leaks. It’s the most information made public about the ads to date.
Reach and exposure: 44% of the ads were seen before the election on Nov. 8, 2016 and 56% were seen after. Roughly 25% of the ads were never shown to anyone, because Facebook ad auctions are designed to only reach people based on relevance.
Cost: For 50% of the ads, less than $3 was spent and for 99% of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent.
Payment: Facebook says some of the ads were paid for in Russian currency, but it can’t use that as an indicator of suspicious activity necessarily because “the overwhelming majority” of advertisers who pay in Russian currency aren’t doing anything wrong.
Targeting: Facebook says that most of the ads bought by Russians appear to focus on divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — from LGBT issues, to race, immigration and gun rights — which mimics news reports out last week. Most importantly, Facebook says that a number of ads appear to encourage people to follow Pages where they can receive more information in their News Feeds on these issues.