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Trump and Clinton spent $81M on US election Facebook ads, Russian agency $46K

Trump and Clinton spent $81M on US election Facebook ads, Russian agency $46K
From TechCrunch - November 1, 2017

Russian information troll farm the Internet Research Agency spent just 0.05 percent as much on Facebook ads as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trumps campaigns combined in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, yet still reached a massive audience. While there might have been other Russian disinformation groups, the IRA spent $46,000 on pre-election day Facebook ads compared to $81 million spent by Clinton and Trump together, discluding political action committees who could have spent even more than that on the campaigns behalf.

Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch revealed these figures today during the Senate Intelligence Committees hearing with Facebook, Twitter and Google about Russian election interference.

Without counting PACs, the top campaigns spent 1,760X more on election ads than one group of Russian meddlers puts the situation into context. The IRA ad buy was small by comparison. This aligns with Stretchs main talking point that Russian propaganda content was a tiny fraction of the content and ads seen on Facebook. This revelation could put more focus on organically posted propaganda.

[Update: However, since the IRA was using incendiary, divisive, eye-drawing content about polarizing issues, it likely was able to squeeze more impressions and engagment out of each dollar of spend than Trump and Clintons ads driving awareness for the candidates Thats because Facebooks ad auction system preferences engaging ads by providing lower rates. By focusing on hot-button issues and playing into peoples biases, the IRAs ads got widely re-shared for free by viewers.]

Facebook today said that the Russians still reached 126 million Facebook users, as well as 20 million Instagram users. But Facebook, Twitter and Google all confirmed that their investigations have found no evidence that the Russians uploaded voter registration contact info in order to individually target voters with ads.

Facebook had previously announced that $100,000 was spent on Facebook ads from June 2015 to May 2017 by Russian-linked disinformation sources, while an additional $50,000 was spent by Russians that signals indicate werent or were only weakly connected to an organized disinformation campaign.

Are More Russian Trolls Still Out There?

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