As Facebook, Google and Twitter prepared to face questioning on November 1 into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election, the tech giants were planning to tell the lawmakers that the Russian content on their respective platforms reached more users than reported earlier. Also Read - COVID-19 third wave: Twitter shuts offices as coronavirus cases rise
According to a report in The Washington Post late on Monday, Facebook was planning to tell lawmakers that 126 million of its users might have seen content produced and circulated by Russian operatives — many times more than the company had previously disclosed about their reach. Also Read - Google, Facebook make vaccination mandatory for employees returning to office
Facebook had previously reported that nearly 10 million users had seen those ads. Similarly, Google also acknowledged that it had found evidence that Russian operatives used the company’s platforms to influence American voters. Google said in a blog post that it had found 1,108 videos with 43 hours of content related to the Russian effort on YouTube. It also found $4,700 worth of Russian search and display ads. Also Read - Fake Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) Lite APK links going viral on the internet: How to spot them
“Further, Twitter would also tell Congressional investigators that it has identified 2,752 accounts controlled by Russian operatives and more than 36,000 bots that tweeted 1.4 million times during the election. The company previously reported 201 accounts linked to Russia,” the report added. After scrutiny by the Congressional investigators, the tech giants have been working hard to make political ads more transparent. Facebook has vowed to make political ads more transparent, allowing users of the social network to know more about the advertisers which may include their identity and location.
“We’re going to require more thorough documentation from advertisers who want to run election-related ads,” Rob Goldman, Facebook’s Vice President of Ads said in a statement last week. “We are starting with federal elections in the US, and will progress from there to additional contests and elections in other countries and jurisdictions,” Goldman added.
As part of the documentation process, advertisers may be required to identify that they are running election-related advertising and verify both their entity and location. To help protect integrity of user experience on Twitter, the microblogging site has banned advertising from all accounts owned by Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik with immediate effect.