Facebook Used A Rape Threat To Advertise Instagram: Here's How That Happened

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A rape and death threat sent to a user has been accidentally used to advertise Instagram on Facebook.

The email message continued: 'I will rape you before I kill you, you filthy whore!'

Guardian reporter Olivia Solon tweeted a picture of the offensive ad, noting that it was one of her "most "engaging" posts".

"This is an email I received this afternoon", she wrote (via The Guardian).

Earlier this week, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said the company would be revamping its ad-targeting policies after the company received notification from Pro Publica that it was able to purchase ads targeting anti-Semitic categories.

Instagram reportedly turned the aforementioned screenshot into an advertisement of itself and displayed it on Solon's sister's Facebook feed with the line, "See Olivia Solon's photo and posts from friends on Instagram".

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An Instagram post of friends walking through the crystal-clear waves of Ibiza might get someone to check in with the photo-sharing app, but a screenshot of a rape threat? Instagram didn't reveal who the post was shared with, but said it would have been "some" of Solon's Facebook friends.

The automated algorithms used by social media to inadvertently boost offensive content is generating more scrutiny.

Once people put those phrases on their Facebook profiles, the topics automatically migrated onto the company's advertising platform, as if they were education or job data that would be useful to marketers.

Facebook announced on Wednesday that it will add "more human review and oversight" to its ad-buying system. It only has five likes, two of which it received in recent history, but the 20 comments of sympathetic and consoling followers may have flagged the post for high engagement. And as it would have been, it is a highly derogatory word that ended up being part of the Instagram promotional material, perhaps the worst that any woman can ever receive.

The company would create a program to encourage people on Facebook to report potential abuses of its ads system directly to the company, she said.

Facebook also admitted this month that an influence operation probably based in Russian Federation bought $100,000 worth of ads to promote divisive political messages.

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