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Facebook Will Show Americans What Russian Posts They Read

Published on .

Credit: Illustration by Ad Age

Facebook will show people which Russian propaganda pages or accounts they've followed and liked on the social network, responding to a request from Congress to address manipulation and meddling during the 2016 presidential election.

The tool will appear by the end of the year in Facebook's online support center, the company said in a blog post Wednesday. It will answer the user question, "How can I see if I've liked or followed a Facebook page or Instagram account created by the Internet Research Agency?" That's the Russian firm that created thousands of incendiary posts from fake accounts posing as U.S. citizens. People will see a list of the accounts they followed, if any, from January 2015 through August 2017.

It's Facebook's most direct effort to explain to users how they may have been affected by the postings, which reached an estimated 150 million people and stirred up controversy over gun rights, immigration, race relations and religion in the U.S., sometimes prompting real-world protests on both sides of a debate.

"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 said in the post.

Facebook, Google and Twitter appeared in early November for hours of congressional testimony to explain how Russia used the platforms to manipulate U.S. citizens. The companies vowed to do more to prevent anything similar from occurring in the future, and said they would look into the possibility of informing users about their exposure.

"I hope that Google and Twitter will follow Facebook's lead," said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

-- Bloomberg News

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