Facebook is creating a tool that will allow users to check whether or not they followed Russian propaganda accounts on Facebook or Instagram during the 2016 US election cycle, the company announced today. The tool, which is expected to launch by the end of this year, is a response to continued pressure from lawmakers who have demanded that Facebook be more transparent about election meddling on its platform.
Users will be able to find the tool in Facebook's Help Center, under a section titled, "How can I see if I've liked or followed a Facebook Page or Instagram account created by the Internet Research Agency?"
The Internet Research Agency is a Kremlin-linked troll farm that spent $US100,000 ($132,198) to promote posts on Facebook during the US election. Facebook has said that the promoted posts often discussed political issues but rarely mentioned candidates themselves. Facebook has resisted publishing the ads, which were seen by 126 million Americans, but the House Intelligence Committee has released a few ads that it deemed to be a "representative sampling" of the IRA's content.
As part of its ongoing probe into Russian US election meddling, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have released a 'representative sampling' of Facebook and Instagram ads allegedly purchased by Russian trolls during the US presidential campaign season.
Users who followed or liked IRA content will be told the name of the Facebook Page that posted it, but they won't be able to review the content itself. If a user saw promoted IRA posts in their Facebook feed - which could occur if a friend shared it or if the user was within one of the demographic groups targeted by the advertiser - but did not like the post or follow the page, Facebook's tool would not disclose that to them. The tool will also only include activity that occurred between January 2015 and August 2017.
"It is important that people understand how foreign actors tried to sow division and mistrust using Facebook before and after the 2016 US election. That's why as we have discovered information, we have continually come forward to share it publicly and have provided it to congressional investigators," Facebook said in its announcement.