US digital giants are trying to learn from Russian interference in the US presidential election. Less than a month after its appearance in the US Congress, alongside Google and Twitter, Facebook announced the creation of a tool to allow its users to know if they had been exposed to content on Facebook or Instagram set online by Russian actors to influence opinion between January 2015 and August 2017, the period covering the US presidential election.
Launched by the end of the year, this tool will allow users to know, in the form of a table, whether they have “liked” or “followed” pages or accounts of the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll factory. This organization is known for its online propaganda campaigns for the Kremlin.
Before the Congress on September 6, Facebook had admitted the existence of evidence involving accounts related to the Internet Research Agency. ” It’s important for people to understand how foreign players have tried to sow division and mistrust by using Facebook before and after the 2016 US election ,” said Facebook to justify creating the tool. The latter is also Mark Zuckerberg’s first response to congressional accusations that Google, Facebook and Twitter have allowed content to serve Russia’s interests.
150 million Facebook and Instagram users affected by Russian propaganda
By the end of October, Facebook had revealed that up to 126 million US users of the social network had seen between June 2015 and August 2017 nearly 80,000 political publications posted by accounts related to Russian propaganda . They also posted 120,000 posts on Instagram, which were viewed by 20 million users. In total, 150 million people were affected by Russian propaganda on Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook is not the only company to have been affected by these maneuvers. Google also unveiled late October information on how his services had been instrumentalized by Russia. The Mountain View company had revealed that Russian-interest accounts had posted 1,108 videos, representing 43 hours of content, on YouTube, which had a total of 309,000 views in the US between June 2015 and November 2016 Google also said that accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency spent $ 4,700 to run ads via its board. A few weeks ago, Google and Facebook joined the “Trust Project”, which aims to fight misinformation on the Internet. This initiative is also supported by Twitter and Microsoft.