Facebook has released a new tool to tell users if they liked or followed posts considered part of a Russian effort to meddle with last year’s US election.
It shows 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.
The agency is seen as a Russian resource for spreading propaganda online, and nearly 150 million Facebook and Instagram users may have seen paid ads and organic posts distributed by the Kremlin-linked organization in St. Petersburg.
The new tool is in the Facebook Help Center. It will enable people on Facebook to learn which of the Internet Research Agency Facebook Pages or Instagram accounts they may have liked or followed between January 2015 and August 2017
HOW TO CHECK
To access the tool, click here.
It will show any account you have interacted with on Facebook.
It will also show an option to perform the same check on your Instagram account.
‘We are taking action to be more transparent about the foreign interference in the 2016 US Elections,’ Facebook says on the page where users can check their account.
It will show if pages or accounts users liked or followed between January 2015 and August 2017 were created by Russian operatives.
The accounts spread posts on race, religion, gun rights, gay rights, immigration and other hot-button issues.
Some promoted the candidacy of Donald Trump and criticized his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton.
However, the tool won’t tell you if friends shared the content, and will not show you the content posted by the accounts or pages – only a list of the content.
‘We’ve taken down fake accounts and Pages by the Internet Research Agency and have shared this information with Congress.’
Secured Borders created shareable content with a strong anti-immigrant message, which also encouraged voters to support President Trump
‘It is important that people understand how foreign actors tried to sow division and mistrust using Facebook before and after the 2016 US election,’ the leading online social network said in a blog post earlier this year when it first announced the tool.
Creation of the new tool comes in the face of Congressional pressure on Facebook and other internet giants to let users know if they were exposed to Russian propaganda prior to the election.
Google, Facebook and other tech firms joined global news organizations earlier this year in a major initiative aimed at identifying ‘trustworthy’ news sources, in the latest effort to combat online misinformation.
Microsoft and Twitter also agreed to participate in the ‘Trust Project’ with some 75 news organizations to tag news stories which meet standards for ethics and transparency.
Google, Twitter and Facebook have come under fire for allowing the spread of bogus news — some of which was directed by Russia — ahead of the 2016 US election and in other countries.
During a quarterly earnings call with analysts this month, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg addressed criticism over allowing disinformation and manipulation during the US presidential election, just hours after the company’s top lawyer faced a grilling at a Washington congressional hearing.
‘Our community continues to grow and our business is doing well,’ Zuckerberg said.
‘But none of that matters if our services are used in ways that don’t bring people closer together. Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits.’
THE BANNED ADS REVEALED
A report by the Russian media outlet RBC last March identified the Secured Borders page as the work of the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg firm that employs hundreds of so-called trolls to post material in support of Russian government policies.
A Facebook official confirmed that Secured Borders was removed in the purge of Russian fakes
The meeting’s sponsor, an anti-immigrant page called “Secured Borders,” was one of hundreds of fake Facebook accounts created by a Russian company with Kremlin ties to spread vitriolic messages on divisive issues.
ABC News revealed that the group Secured Borders, which looked like an American grassroots organization, was really a page operated by the Russians
Facebook told Congress that the apparent political meddling included use of its image-sharing application Instagram.
Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch told a hearing that Instagram posts by suspect Russian accounts were seen by some 20 million Americans last year.
The data on Instagram is on top of the estimated 126 million Americans exposed to Facebook posts from Russian entities seeking to create divisions during the election campaign.
‘I’ve expressed how upset I am that the Russians tried to use our tools to sow mistrust,’ Zuckerberg said earlier this month.
‘What they did is wrong and we are not going to stand for it.’