After last week’s reports, Facebook received a round of emails and calls from reporters asking for clarifications on the many glaring gaps in the social network’s disclosure:
- What was the content of the Russian-backed ads in question?
- How many people saw these ads? How many people clicked them?
- What were the Facebook pages associated with the ads? How many members did they have?
- What specific targeting criteria (race, age, and most importantly, location) did the Russian ads choose?
Given that Facebook reaches a little under 30 percent of the entire population of our planet, the answers to these questions matter.
The response I received from Facebook PR (“We are not commenting beyond the blog post at this time”) is typical. But even when Facebook does decide to talk to journalists, it has the tenor of an occult priest discussing something from beyond an eerie void: Just last week, when faced with a report that its advertising numbers promised an American audience that, in certain demographics, well exceeded the number of such humans in existence, judging by U.S. Census Bureau numbers, Facebook told the Wall Street Journal that its numbers “are not designed to match population or census estimates. We are always working to improve our estimates.” Facebook’s intercourse with the public need not adhere to the so-called norms of so-called reality.
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