Here’s how Russian manipulators were able to target Facebook users

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook users are getting another reminder of how the personal information they’ve shared with friends on the social network can be used by advertisers — including, last year, by Russian political operatives. 

Congress on Thursday released thousands of ads it says Russia’s Internet Research Agency placed on Facebook, meant to sow discord among the American public. The unprecedented ad releases brings to the forefront questions Facebook’s 2.2 billion monthly users may have about computer algorithms that underwrite what ad gets shown to which user: Why am I shown one ad and not another? How specific does Facebook get when it lets advertisers decide who they want their ads to be sent to?

The largely automated ad system has turned the 14-year-old…

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