Date
13 December 2017
Facebook said Russia-based operatives published about 80,000 posts on the social network over a two-year period in an effort to sway US politics. Photo: AFP
Facebook said Russia-based operatives published about 80,000 posts on the social network over a two-year period in an effort to sway US politics. Photo: AFP

126 mln Americans may have seen Russia-linked posts: Facebook

Facebook Inc. said Russia-based operatives published about 80,000 posts on the social network over a two-year period in an effort to sway US politics and that about 126 million Americans may have seen the posts during that time, Reuters reports.

Facebook gave the details about the reach of Russian posts in written testimony it provided to US lawmakers, which was seen by the news agency.

Twitter Inc. separately has found 2,752 accounts linked to Russian operatives, Reuters also said, citing a source familiar with the company’s written testimony. That estimate is up from a tally of 201 accounts that Twitter reported in September.

Executives from Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet Inc.’s Google are scheduled to appear before three congressional committees this week on alleged Russian attempts to spread misinformation in the months before and after the 2016 US presidential election.

The Russian government has denied any attempts to sway the election, in which President Donald Trump, a Republican, defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Facebook’s general counsel, Colin Stretch, said in the written testimony that the 80,000 posts from Russia’s Internet Research Agency were a tiny fraction of content on Facebook, equal to one out of 23,000 posts.

However, the posts violated Facebook’s terms of service, and any amount of such activity using fake accounts is too much, Stretch wrote.

“These actions run counter to Facebook’s mission of building community and everything we stand for. And we are determined to do everything we can to address this new threat,” he wrote.

The 80,000 posts were published between June 2015 and August 2017. Most of them focused on divisive social and political messages such as race relations and gun rights, Facebook said.

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RA/CG

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