Hello, Inside Facebook subscribers! We really hope you are enjoying our recently-launched Inside Social newsletter, which covers the full spread of social media stories. Here's a roundup of recent Facebook news for those of you who need your Zuckerberg fix.
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Facebook is willing to spend up to $1 billion on cultivating original series content for its video platform, according to the Wall Street Journal. That figure, which could fluctuate depending on the success of the enterprise, covers the development of original programming through 2018. The news marks a huge leap in spending on video content for the social media giant, as well as further confirmation of CEO Mark Zuckerberg's plans to turn Facebook into a "video first" platform. Facebook has declined to comment on its video spending strategy. – WALL STREET JOURNAL
An analyst found that the figures Facebook provides about its advertising reach don't match U.S. Census data. Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser found that Facebook tells would-be ad clients that it can potentially reach 41 million US citizens between the ages of 18 and 24. That's more than the 31 million people that exist in that ages group, according to Census figures. Facebook has stated that its ad reach numbers “are not designed to match population or census estimates." – REUTERS
Facebook bid $610 million to stream Indian Premier League cricket matches, but was outbid by 21st Century Fox's Star India at $2.5 billion. Facebook's hefty offer came after the launch of its new Watch portal for streaming live and scripted video content. The company has been trying to secure sports content for streaming, but so far has only been able to get rights to "second-tier" games like low-profile college football teams. — BUSINESS INSIDER
Facebook and Microsoft launched an Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX) format. The format allows AI developers to switch between open-source frameworks, including Facebook’s Caffe2, Microsoft’s Cognitive Toolkit, and PyTorch. The companies are hoping that adding interoperability between the frameworks will streamline the development of new AI experiments and production. — GEEKWIRE
On Wednesday, representatives from Facebook told congressional investigators that the company unknowingly sold political ads to a "shadowy" Russian company during the 2016 election cycle. Facebook says it has traced $100,000 in political ad sales, representing thousands of ads, to a "troll farm" in Russia that is known for disseminating pro-Kremlin propaganda. A small percentage of the ads, starting in the summer of 2015, mentioned candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton by name, while others focused on hot-button political topics like gun control and immigration. The news comes as part of the continued investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in last year's presidential election. While the amount spent in this case on Facebook ads is relatively low, congressional Democrats are concerned that the Russians may have had some sort of point-person in the US, considering that the precise targeting of the Facebook ads implies an intimate knowledge of jurisdictional detail. – WASHINGTON POST