Friday, 15 December, 2017

Facebook will let you see what Russian-linked content you followed

Facebook will help some users figure out if they saw Russian propaganda during the 2016 US presidential election Facebook will show which Russian election troll accounts you followed
Cecilia Poole | 25 November, 2017, 00:56

Facebook is not the first one to start crackdown against Russian propaganda sites, Google has already been planning to de-rank articles by Russian news sites from its Google News platform.

The tool is an attempt to fend of accusations that it is being secretive about the reach of fake Russian accounts, and that people are still unaware of what they have seen.

Additionally, the tool puts the onus on users to visit the portal, and assumes they know it exists.

As has now been well-document, the company did not imagine its platform could be used that way before the election.

"It is important that people understand how foreign actors tried to sow division and mistrust using Facebook before and after the 2016 U.S. election", said Facebook's statement.

It's another step - and so far, the most user-specific - in an effort to shed light on Russian meddling before and during the presidential election.

A software tool to be released by the end of this year will allow users to see whether they engaged with Facebook pages or Instagram accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency between January 2015 and the August before last year's presidential election.

Facebook says the propaganda came from the Internet Research Agency, a Russian organization that according to lawmakers and researchers employs hundreds of people to push pro-Kremlin content under phony social media accounts. Rather than listing each time the troll farm's posts appeared on a user's timeline, the portal will only show instances of active interaction.

Facebook's new tool will be limited in its functionality, only showing you whether you've liked or followed the accounts in question, meaning that you won't be able to discern whether you actually saw or shared posts from those pages unless you manually figured it out from memory. The issue of Russian digital influence has been so troubling and potentially so widespread, Congress even called top officials from Facebook (as well as Twitter and Google) to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in October.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat who had asked for notifications, said Facebook's plan "seems to be a serious response" to his request.

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