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Russian-Backed Content May Have Reached A Staggering 126M People

FacebookA day before a hearing by a U.S. Senate justice subcommittee on crime and terrorism, Facebook is set to reveal the number of people reached by Russian-backed content on the platform.

The world’s largest social network said 126 million people might have viewed 80,000 pieces of Russian-backed, according to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report.

The WSJ said Facebook, Google’s parent company Alphabet, and Twitter are going to reveal “new details about the scope of Russian manipulation on their platforms before and after the 2016 U.S. elections.”

The electoral manipulation, the WSJ added, “was far greater than previously disclosed.”

The newspaper cited “people familiar with the matter, prepared copies of their testimonies and a company statement” as sources of their report.

Previous Estimates

Previous estimates by Facebook included only 3,000 ads from 470 separate accounts associated with Russian firm Internet Research Agency, TechCrunch said.

But organic posts, images, events and other things also matter, not just ads — so Facebook was asked to include these, as well.”

Concerted Effort

TechCrunch also said WSJ report appears to be “part of what appears to be a concerted effort to spread the news online ahead of the hearing.”

Google put up a blog post to accompany the news story.

Google said, “we have found some evidence of efforts to misuse our platforms during the 2016 U.S. election by actors linked to the Internet Research Agency in Russia.”

The tech company said preventing the misuse of their platforms is taken “very seriously.”

“We will be launching several new initiatives to provide more transparency and enhance security, which we also detail in these information sheets: what we found, steps against phishing and hacking, and our work going forward.

Bot and Fake Accounts

Meanwhile, TechCrunch pointed out that “reaching 126 million people is not a trivial task” because those involved in spreading Russian-backed content “could spend a lot of money and not get close to that.

That’s where networks of bots and fake accounts come in.”

By juicing the ads, posts and so on with likes, shares, and tags, bot networks would have been crucial in getting these pieces of content onto more news feeds.”

What’s Next?

With Facebook’s revelation about the massive number of people who may have viewed Russian-backed content on the platform, what are your thoughts about it?

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