Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Facebook will show users what Russian propaganda they liked or followed

Now I’m intrigued.  The article is a bit imprecise, or perhaps Facebook was unclear with the details, but it seems like individuals will be shown which Russian ghost accounts they liked, followed, and perhaps read. 

If Facebook can do that, it could be amazing. I, personally, identified tons of what seemed like Russian propaganda, but at the time there were no options of exposing it, etc. I know I did like a few “articles” which reflected my personal perspectives and I truly suspect they were Russian troll-written articles.  We shall see. 

From a privacy perspective, this potentially illustrates the amount of data collected and stored by and on Facebook on every individual user. …and they wonder why I never take their quizzes, never fill out more information than I absolutely must, and avoid sharing anything with anyone, if at all possible.  I’m also super-paranoid about accepting new friends, especially requests from young pretty women or males from anywhere at all.  

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You could soon see whether you interacted with Russian propaganda on Facebook and Instagram during the 2016 election.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced a new portal that lets users see which Internet Research Agency-linked Facebook pages or Instagram accounts they liked or followed between January 2015 and August 2017, when the pages were shut down.

The Internet Research Agency is a troll farm with ties to the Russian government.

“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 company wrote in a blog post.

The new tool will be available by the end of the year via the social network’s Help Center.

Facebook said the portal is part of its continuing effort to “protect” its platforms and users from “bad actors who try to undermine our democracy.”

However, not all of those users will be able to take advantage of the portal. The tool applies to users who followed or liked those accounts. It won’t work for users who saw posts from the accounts on their feed because a friend liked them or who saw them via paid advertisements. Users will also have to know the feature exists and how to access it — Facebook will not simply show the information to them on its own.

At a House Intelligence Committee hearing on November 1, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch said: “It’s a much more challenging issue to identify and notify reliably people who may have been exposed to this content on an individual basis.”

Facebook estimates that close to 150 million Americans may have been exposed to content from the Internet Research Agency between June 2015 and August 2017 on Facebook and Instagram.

California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who is the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, called Facebook’s move a “very positive step.”

“During our open hearing with Facebook, Twitter and Google earlier this month, we asked them to notify their users if they had been targeted by or seen content as part of the Russian active measures campaign,” Schiff said in a statement.

“We look forward to additional steps by the companies to improve transparency with respect to Russian abuse of their platforms, and urge them to furnish a joint report on how Russia used these platforms to sow discord and influence the election.”