Facebook has said that it has found more than 3,000 ads linked to the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg troll farm with ties to the Russian government, and that the ads were seen by more than 11 million people between 2015 and 2017.
Those posts came from 120 fake, Russia-backed Facebook pages, that through likes, shares, and follows reached 126 million people, or half of all eligible American voters.
While standing before a Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, lawyers for Google, Facebook, and Twitter said while they are working to be more transparent about online ads. You have a huge problem on your hands and you bear the responsibility.
Senate Intelligence Committee members instead interrogated the companies over their past and current efforts to curb Russian manipulation of their platforms, frequently expressing displeasure with the answers they received.
Senators were not impressed the big tech companies sent their general counsels to three hearings this week and called on the companies to be tougher in the face of national security threats. "Russia was able to weaponize your platforms to divide us".More news: Attorney General Hunter Urges Oklahomans to Observe National Takeback Day
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"If we go through this exercise again, we would appreciate seeing the top people who are making the decision", said Senator Angus King, an independent. The committee's Democrats, who were responsible for the release, called the selection of ads that they made public a "representative sampling".
Sean Edgett, Twitter's acting general counsel, said less than 5 percent of its accounts were automated.
What was orchestrated in St. Petersburg, Russia for a cost of about $200 in Facebook ads resulted in a real-life clash covered by local news. While the text itself says that an East Boston man "critically injured" two officers, the image in the body reads "our hearts are with those 11 heroes", suggesting the one ad may be splicing together information from separate incidents. It is not clear how numerous 150 million people who were served that content actually saw it.
In the past six months, a growing body of evidence has revealed the extent to which the Kremlin used major social media platforms to influence the 2016 presidential election.
One ad promoted a "Support Hillary - Save American Muslims" event that was set for outside the White House on July 9, 2016.