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Russians Influence US Election using Facebook Ads

This article talks about the Russian operation to influence the 2016 election using ads through various social media outlets, with Facebook being one of them. After Facebook did an investigation, they found that the Russians spent “tens of thousands” of dollars on these ads, paying for over 3000 Facebook ads that were seen by over 10 million people. It took Facebook nearly one year to find out about these ads and will not make these ads public. The interesting thing is that Facebook ads can be tailored in a way that the ads will only appear on the newsfeed of a group of users “that are most receptive to a given message.” This means that a vast majority of people will never even see these ads. This explains why it took Facebook so long to discover these ads. Because advertising on social media is extremely different from other forms of advertising, there should be certain government policies put in place that address foreign meddling with our country’s politics.

This article reminded me of Prof. Easley’s lecture in class today about the revenue people can make from ads. Some advertisers can make hundreds of dollars per ad click! Because there are so many different ways of advertising on social media and so many different incentives for advertisers to use social media to advertise, how should restrictions be placed?

Facebook ads are different from other types¬†of ads because they not only take into account user location, demographics, and search history, but also specific details from the user’s profile such as likes, political interests, etc. This type of advertising is different because other ad platforms don’t have access to deeper information such as information on a Facebook user’s profile. Since the process of getting a Facebook ad is done through automatic auction, I am interested in using the models we learned in class about forms of advertisement, such as GoogleAds, to fit the structure of Facebook ads.




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October 2017