Date
13 December 2017
Facebook’s disclosures will only reach a fraction of the more than 120 million users who saw the posts. Photo: Reuters
Facebook’s disclosures will only reach a fraction of the more than 120 million users who saw the posts. Photo: Reuters

Facebook to let users know if they followed Russian pages

Facebook Inc. on Wednesday said it plans to tell millions of users who liked or followed any of the 290 Facebook and Instagram pages created by Russian actors that they were ensnared in an alleged misinformation campaign around the US presidential election last year, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Yet, the disclosure falls short of notifying more than 100 million other users who came across the pages’ ads and posts, and may have liked, shared or commented on them. And it provides little information to those users who did follow the pages.

By the end of the year, users will have access to a tool to check if they followed any of the pages, which were designed to look like they were run by Americans but were actually created by a single pro-Kremlin firm called the Internet Research Agency.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal this month following a congressional hearing asked Facebook, Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google to tell users who saw posts by the Internet Research Agency, and asked for a reply by Wednesday.

Facebook’s disclosures, however, will only reach a fraction of the more than 120 million users who saw the posts, the company said. A Facebook spokesman said it is too difficult to reach all affected users, in part because it can’t reliably identify who came across the content.

Facebook’s disclosure to users is “really the bare minimum,” said Elevation Partners co-founder Roger McNamee, an early Facebook investor and adviser who has become a critic of social media’s effect on democracy. Facebook’s “reluctance to both accept responsibility for what happened in 2016 and, more importantly, to take steps to prevent similar things happening in the future is just both horribly disappointing and really dangerous.”

Sen. Blumenthal requested Facebook reach all users who came across any content from the Internet Research Agency and tell them “exactly what content they saw so they can understand and evaluate what they may see in the future,” according to a letter he sent to the company.

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