Facebook just suffered an embarrassing mishap at the hands of its algorithm.
Olivia Solon, a tech journalist for The Guardian, took to Twitter yesterday with quite an unsettling post. She had posted a photo on her Instagram account about a year ago about the kind of hate mail she gets. The post was not very engaging – it only got 3 likes and a couple of comments. However, Facebook’s algorithm thought the post was engaging and picked it up to use it in an ad which was targeted toward non-Instagram users. The post is very unsavory and includes an explicit rape reference and a death threat.
Instagram is using one of my most “engaging” posts to advertise its service to others on Facebook ???? pic.twitter.com/lyEBHQXMfa
— Olivia Solon (@oliviasolon) September 21, 2017
According to The Guardian, an Instagram spokesperson apologized for the mishap and stated,
*“We are sorry this happened – it’s not the experience we want someone to have,” the statement said. “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.”*
While this ad was not used in paid promotion, it still reflects very badly on Facebook’s part that they are incapable of preventing something like this to happen. Moreover, this rings bad news for the social media giant who is already embroiled in an intense ad scandal. Recently, it came to light that Facebook had sold over $100,000 worth of ads to Russian campaigners and indirectly played a major role in affecting the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential election. Moreover, Facebook was also pointed out recently for letting advertisers target topics like *“Jew haters”* and *“How to burn Jews”*.