Facebook To Let Users See If They Followed Russian 'Troll Farm' Pages

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You could soon see whether you interacted with Russian propaganda on Facebook and Instagram during the 2016 election.

Facebook said the tool would be available by the end of 2017.

USA lawmakers earlier this month released a batch of Facebook ads they say were purchased by the company in a surreptitious effort to stir up emotions on sensitive social issues like gun control, race relations, immigration, and religion.

The social network announced on Wednesday the tool would highlight which pages were associated with the Russian Internet Research Agency - a Kremlin-tied organization that specializes in spreading disinformation.

In fact, in some instances, the Internet Research Agency even mobilized demonstrators for and against certain causes to take to the streets at the same time in an apparent attempt to sow chaos.

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"It is important that people understand how foreign actors tried to sow division and mistrust using Facebook before and after the 2016 U.S. election".

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 US, sometimes prompting real-world protests on both sides of a debate. 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.

Sewell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, asked Facebook's General Counsel Colin Stretch in a hearing on November 1 whether the company had "an obligation to notify" its users.

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. But Schiff added that he and his fellow lawmakers "look forward to additional steps by the companies to improve transparency with respect to Russian abuse of their platforms, and urge them to furnish a joint report on how Russia used these platforms to sow discord and influence the election".

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