Facebook: Russian Content Reached 126 Million Americans

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

We already knew the Russian misinformation campaign on Facebook reached millions of Americans, but we didn't know it reached more than a third of the country

Facebook revealed last night that Russian content reached 126 million Americans on their platform. And like all other forms of content on Facebook and other social media platforms, this was propagated by users and algorithms that are designed to spread content.

Underscoring how widely content on the social media platform can spread, Facebook says in the testimony that while some 29 million Americans directly received material from 80,000 posts by 120 fake Russian-backed pages in their own news feeds, those posts were “shared, liked and followed by people on Facebook, and, as a result, three times more people may have been exposed to a story that originated from the Russian operation.”

Platforms like Facebook are free because the platform isn't the product; users are the product. Social media platforms make money by selling advertisements and access to their data.

Depending on your point of view you may say the business model of social media is benign, but what happens when a foreign adversary hijacks the model to spread misinformation?

What happens is the 2016 election. Facebook has announced a new policy that will label advertisements so users will know where they're coming from, but that policy will have to be rigorously enforced. Moreover, the company will have to be more diligent in identifying fake accounts.

Once those steps are taken, there will still be an unfortunate number of Americans who will knowingly and willingly share content produced by foreign agitators. You know, as long as it says something bad about the Clintons or other Democrats.

  • muselet

    Facebook has never paid much attention to little details like advertising content (or, for that matter, user privacy) and never will. Its new policy regarding adverts will be ignored as soon as the heat is off, guaranteed.


    • Victor the Crab

      And Doucherberg will be counting his ad revenues while the world burns from his little Frankenstein’s monster of an internet platform.

  • Victor the Crab

    I’m not satisfied until Facebook’s head douchenozzle Mark Zuckerberg is tarred and feathered and run out on a rail.

    • Silly, that only happens to the little people…not the filthy rich like Zukerberg. So far as I can tell consequences are for suckers (at least until Mueller is able to prove otherwise).

      • Victor the Crab

        He may. But I can see him get fired by Drumph, and then the general populace quickly forgets about it after 24-48 hours.

  • Badgerite

    So….the “wondrous and mysterious hand of free enterprise” unchecked by governmental regulation brings us a media platform easily bent toward purposes of hateful bigotry and authoritarian, fascist rule. Oh, well that sounds good.
    Jesus. How can they be so blase about this. Societies which do not interface with reality, that is real not “alternative” facts, are doomed.

  • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

    Platforms like Facebook are free because the platform isn’t the product; users are the product. Social media platforms make money by selling advertisements and access to their data.

    Let’s all say it together: If you aren’t the client, you’re the service.

    I’ve always hated Facebook for this exact reason. I ran an add on FB a while back when I was selling a house. You would be stunned by how much it knows about its users. Things you’ve never provided, but that it has inferred about you and learned through tracking cookies everywhere on the internet.

    Including… drum roll…! Yes, even our beloved blog features “Facebook Social Graph” tracking cookies, which means that FB knows that you frequent this blog. And it knows that you comment – it might even know what you comment.

    • 1933john

      That’s why I don’t type “Trump”, “Crazy”, and
      “Mother-Fucker” during the National Anthem.

    • muselet

      And people wonder why I hate Facebook with a fiery passion, and run an ad-blocker and a tracker-blocker.