Facebook: 150 Russia-linked political ads showed up on Instagram

Facebook has confirmed that about 150 of the political ads linked to Russia during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election appeared on Instagram.

Facebook owns the popular photo-sharing platform.

Last month Facebook announced that it uncovered $100,000 in fake ad spending tied to Russian operatives during the election cycle, associated with around 3,000 ads. The ads were connected to about 470 inauthentic accounts and pages, Facebook said.

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The tech giant turned the 3,000 ads over to Congress last week. The 3,000 ads were seen by an estimated 10 million people before and after the 2016 election, Facebook said.

In an updated blog post on Friday, Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of policy and communications, confirmed that some of the ads appeared on the Instagram photo-sharing platform.

“Of the more than 3,000 ads that we have shared with Congress, 5% appeared on Instagram,” he wrote. “About $6,700 was spent on these ads.” 

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While the vast majority of 3,000 ads didn’t reference the election, voting, or a particular candidate, they did focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages such as LGBT matters, race, immigration and gun rights, according to Facebook.

The ads were turned over to the House and Senate intelligence committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 2. Facebook already has given similar material to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Russian meddling.

During a Facebook Live Chat last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the company would strengthen its ad review process for political ads.

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Facebook’s battle with fake political ads comes amid investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which Russia denies.

Facebook is not the only social media company probing fake ads. Twitter recently announced it has uncovered several accounts linked to the same alleged Russian activity on Facebook, as well as $274,000 spent on ads by state-owned TV network Russia Today in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Twitter’s move prompted a scathing response from Russia Today.

The Senate intelligence committee, along with the House intelligence committee, has invited Facebook, Twitter and Google to testify at a public hearing next month. Facebook said last week that it had accepted invitations from both committees, and Twitter confirmed it would testify before the Senate panel on Nov. 1.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers