Russian Facebook Content May Have Reached Roughly One-Third of US Population

Facebook, Twitter, and Google will publicly testify starting on Tuesday.

Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto/ZUMA Press

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Facebook content from Russian agents may have reached as many as 126 million people over the past two years—the latest revelation in how the operatives used social media platforms to influence the election. Facebook had initially said that posts only reached an estimated 10 million people. 

As the Washington Post reported Monday evening: 

On Tuesday, Facebook’s General Counsel Colin Stretch is expected to say that between 2015 and 2017, the troll farm posted about 80,000 times, and that roughly 29 million people received that content in their news feeds. Because those posts were also liked, shared, and commented on by Facebook users, the company estimates that three times more people – and at most 126 million – may have been exposed to a story that originated from Russian operatives.

Representatives from Facebook, as well as Twitter and Google, will testify before Senate and House committees this week about Russian meddling on the platforms. The Facebook news comes from draft testimonies to Congress that were obtained by reporters ahead of the hearings. 

Google is also expected to confirm before Congress that Russian agents bought ads on its platform, according to the New York Times, which obtained copies of the company’s prepared remarks:

Google said it had found 18 channels that were “likely associated” with the Russian agents that posted political videos to YouTube. All told, those accounts — now suspended — uploaded more than 1,100 videos totaling 43 hours of content from 2015 through the summer of 2017. Google said, in general, those videos had very low view counts; only three percent of the videos had more than 5,000 views and there was no evidence that the accounts had targeted American viewers.

Google also confirmed earlier reports that the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-linked troll farm, bought $4,700 in ads during the election.  

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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