Russian Facebook ads targeted teen girls with promise of free music


Facebook ads purchased in May 2016 by the Internet Research Agency, a notorious Russian troll farm, urged users to install the FaceMusic app. When installed, this Chrome extension gained wide access to the users' Facebook accounts and web browsing behaviour; in some cases it messaged all the user's Facebook Friends. The most successful of these ads specifically targeted American girls aged 14 to 17 and said the app would let them play their favourite music on Facebook for free and share it with their friends. The extension has since been removed from both Facebook and the devices on which it was installed. The app was also posted to Reddit. Jonathan Albright, director of research at Columbia University's Tow Center for Digital Journalism, who discovered the ads for the app in the tranche of 3,500 IRA-purchased Facebook and Instagram ads released in May 2018 by the Democrats on the US House Intelligence Committee.

Writer: Issie Lapowsky
Publication: Wired

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