NYT: ‘Fake Russian Facebook Accounts Bought $100,000 in Political Ads’

Vindu Goel and Scott Shane, reporting for The New York Times:

Hundreds of fake Facebook accounts and pages apparently operated out of Russia bought $100,000 in political ads on Facebook during the presidential campaign last year, the company disclosed on Wednesday.

The revelations about ads on the social network can only add to the continuing political skirmishing in Washington over Russia’s role in the election. Robert Mueller, the special counsel, and the Senate and House intelligence committees are all investigating the matter, including the possibility that someone with ties to President Trump’s campaign worked with Russia.

Facebook officials said the fake accounts and pages had been connected to a shadowy Russian company called the Internet Research Agency, which is known for using “troll” accounts to post on social media and comment on news websites.

$100,000 (for about 3,000 total ads) is chump change for Facebook. In fact, chump change is probably too strong a word. Facebook reported $9.3 billion in revenue last quarter. There are 86,400 seconds in a day, and about 91 days per fiscal quarter. That means Facebook generates about $1,200 in revenue every second of every day.

$100,000 is literally almost nothing to Facebook — a little over one minute’s worth of revenue in a three-month quarter. I’m not saying this shouldn’t be reported. And I’m definitely not saying that I think Facebook is being completely up front and honest about just how much money they made from Russian disinformation trolls during the election last year. I’m just saying that what they’ve reported today is almost nothing.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017