‘I Will Rape You’ Post Used To Advertise Instagram on Facebook

Instagram used a user's image that included the text "I will rape you before I kill you, you filthy whore!" to advertise its service on Facebook, the latest example of social media algorithms boosting offensive content.

Guardian reporter Olivia Solon recently discovered that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, made an advertisement out of a photo she had posted of a violent threat she received in an email, which said "Olivia, you f*** bitch!!!!!!!?EU? and "I Will Rape You."

Instagram selected the screenshot, which she posted nearly a year ago, to advertise the photo-sharing platform to Solon's sister this week, with the message, "See Olivia Solon's photo and posts from friends on Instagram."

The distasteful ad has surfaced at a time when Facebook is facing intense scrutiny over the ethical failings of its algorithms and advertising tools. Last week, ProPublica reported that Facebook was allowing advertisers to target users interested in the topic of "Jew hater" and "How to burn Jews" -- categories that the social media site had automatically created. Journalists were able to pay $30 to target "promoted posts" to the antisemitic groups.

Others quickly discovered that there was a range of bigoted and derogatory terms that Facebook allowed for ad targeting and that Google and Twitter had similar problems.

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg issued a mea culpa on Wednesday and said the company was changing its policies as a result. Facebook disabled the targeting system that created the offensive categories, and Sandberg said the site would only allow targeting options reviewed by humans in the future.

It's unclear why Instagram chose to highlight Solon's hate mail to friends on Facebook. When she posted the screenshot last year, she wrote: "This is an email I received this afternoon. Sadly this is all too common for women on the internet. I am...

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