Published: Thu, November 23, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Facebook Will Show Users Which Russian Propaganda Pages They've 'Liked' And Followed

Facebook Will Show Users Which Russian Propaganda Pages They've 'Liked' And Followed

Panicked about your feed getting hijacked by "Russian trolls"? Users will also have to know the feature exists and how to access it - Facebook will not simply show the information to them on its own.

The move is part of the social media giant's "continuing transparency on Russian activity" and efforts to protect users from "bad actors who try to undermine our democracy", the company said in a statement Wednesday.

Within the last few weeks, the House Intelligence Committee released photos of 3,000 ads during a hearing in which Facebook, Google, and Twitter were testifying before Congress, acknowledging Russian meddling on their platforms.

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It's Facebook's most direct effort to explain to users how they may have been affected by the IRA's postings, which reached an estimated 150 million people and stirred up controversy over gun rights, immigration, race relations and religion in the US, sometimes prompting real-world protests on both sides of a debate. The IRA has been presented by U.S. lawmakers and the media as an alleged "Russian troll factory" in St. Petersburg.

Facebook has created a tool that will allow users to see if they liked or followed any accounts linked to Russia's "Internet Research Agency" that intentionally spread misinformation leading up to the 2016 USA presidential election.

Together almost 150 million Facebook and Instagram users may have had pieces of Russian disinformation content - both paid ads and free posts - reach their accounts, the company has said, though it also has said there is no way to know how many actually saw that content.

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"It is important that people understand how foreign actors tried to sow division and mistrust using Facebook before and after the 2016 United States election", Facebook said in its announcement Wednesday.

The tool will initially only be available to US-based users, but other options will be considered at a later point, the spokesperson said. Still, Facebook so far hasn't said it will show people if they were targeted by Russia-paid political advertisements, or even if this is something it is able to do.

The reveal is all a part of Facebook's attempt to make up for allowing Russian trolls to interfere with the election.

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USA lawmakers have urged Facebook to be more transparent about its role and to take immediate action to prevent election interference from happening again.

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