Facebook notifications to reveal who saw dodgy Russian election ads

Facebook will help some users figure out if they saw Russian propaganda during the 2016 US presidential election

However, as the Wall Street Journal points out, the new tool will not give insight on the millions of other users who came across the pages in the news feeds, interacted with them or saw them as a result of paid reach on the platform.

Facebook said Wednesday that it would let some of its users see whether they liked or followed pages belonging to Russia-linked operatives that sowed political divisiveness around the 2016 USA presidential election.

"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".

The tool will be launched by the end of the year, the company said.

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

About 150 million people saw Russian propaganda on Facebook, the social network told USA investigators previously, according to Business Insider, although reports from various outlets have this number varying from 120 million to 150 million. The database will also include Instagram accounts created by the group.

Tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google, were initially dismissive of Russia's threat, but they all pledged to make improvements amid pressure from lawmakers.

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Facebook will help some users figure out if they saw Russian propaganda during the 2016 US presidential election
A new Facebook tool will let users see if they fell for Russian propaganda

Both Facebook and its rival Twitter have since deleted the Russia-linked accounts.

The tool, as it's been presented by Facebook at this stage, will only show whether people "Liked" or followed Facebook Pages or Instagram accounts connected to the IRA.

The firm's general counsel Colin Stretch told a hearing Instagram posts by suspect Russian accounts were seen by some 20million Americans a year ago.

Not all "propaganda" content will register as flagged but will rather show users content from the time of the election cycle which they believe was influenced by a concerted Russian effort, January 2015 to August 2017.

It's "much more challenging" to reliably tell people if they were exposed on an individual basis, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch told Congress earlier this month.

As many as 126 million people could have been served posts on Facebook and 20 million on Instagram, the company says.

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