New Facebook tool will enable users to see propaganda pages they've liked

Phillip Butler
November 23, 2017

Facebook says it is creating a portal enabling users to learn whether they liked or followed pages or accounts linked to a shadowy Russian company that USA officials accuse of trying to influence last year's presidential election with socially divisive posts.

It's "much more challenging" to reliably tell people if they were exposed on an individual basis, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch told Congress earlier this month.

Facebook has not defined whether "Russian linked" indicates association with the Russian government or simply with ethnic Russians or citizens of Russia.

The Internet Research Agency is a Russian company which promotes the Kremlin's interests through influence operations. The companies vowed to do more to prevent anything similar from occurring in the future, and said they would look into the possibility of informing users about their exposure. It will answer the user question, "How can I see if I've liked or followed a Facebook page or Instagram account created by the Internet Research Agency?"

Facebook will help some users figure out if they saw Russian propaganda during the 2016 US presidential election

"This tool will be available for use by the end of the year in the Facebook Help Center", Facebook continued.

Some of the Russian pages and accounts explicitly called for the election of Republican Donald Trump or denigrated his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, and some others called for real-world political rallies - many heeded those calls by showing up at the time and places dictated by the Russian trolls.

"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", the company wrote in a blog post. Blumenthal sent a letter calling on Facebook to find a way to alert its users, setting Wednesday as a deadline for the company to take action. Facebook clarified that use of the mechanism would not be public and would not show up in a person's newsfeed. The social network said it would make advertising across the board more transparent and strengthen "enforcement against improper ads" by hiring 1,000 additional review staff.

Facebook has also updated its ad policies in recent weeks, in ongoing attempts to deflect congressional criticism over alleged "Russian interference".

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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