Social network uses rape threat to advertise on Facebook

Olivia Solon, found out that Instagram was using her screenshot of a threatening email to advertise on its parent company, Facebook.

Instagram and Facebook ads have come under fire for several reasons in recent times. The latest being a user-generated image which included the text  "I will rape you before I kill you, you filthy whore!" on a Facebook ad that was used to advertise Instagram to another user.

How it works is that Facebook takes one of a user's most engaging posts on Instagram, then uses it to advertise the app to friends of the user who are not on Instagram.

This is what happened to a reporter at the Guardian, Olivia Solon, who found out that Instagram was using her screenshot of a threatening email to advertise on its parent company, Facebook. The subject line was “Olivia, you fucking bitch!!!!!!!!.”

Instagram, however, apologised quickly in a statement, saying “We are sorry this happened – it’s not the experience we want someone to have”. They further explained saying that it was just in a bid to encourage engagement on their platform.

“This notification post was surfaced as part of an effort to encourage engagement on Instagram. Posts are generally received by a small percentage of a person’s Facebook friends.

ProPublica, earlier this month, claimed it paid Facebook $30 to display three "promoted posts" in the news feeds of people who expressed interest in topics like "Jew hater", "How to burn jews" etc.

Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg has however said that the company would be revamping its ad-targeting policies and adding more human scrutiny to the highly automated process.

Further explaining their new policies, she says the company will create a program "to encourage people on Facebook to report potential abuses of our ads system to us directly."

Facebook ads are said to be one of the cheapest and most effective methods used to get content out in the digital space.

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