Facebook: Russian Posts Reached 126M Users

Facebook will disclose numbers to Senate committee this week
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 30, 2017 6:10 PM CDT
Facebook: 126M Users May Have Seen Russia-Linked Posts
In this May 16, 2012, file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Facebook says a Russian group posted more than 80,000 times on its service during and after the 2016 election, potentially reaching as many as 126 million users, the AP reports. The company plans to disclose these numbers to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the testimony. The person declined to be named because the committee has not officially released the testimony. Facebook, Twitter and Google will testify at three hearings Tuesday and Wednesday. Colin Stretch, Facebook's general counsel, plans to tell the Judiciary panel that 120 pages set up by Russia's Internet Research Agency posted the material between January 2015 and August 2017. The company estimates that roughly 29 million people were directly "served" these items in their news feeds from the agency over that time period.

Some of those people received the posts because they liked one of the agency's pages, or because a Facebook friend liked or commented on a post. Others shared the Russia-linked posts, helping them spread widely. Stretch's prepared testimony makes clear that many of the 126 million people reached this way may not have seen the posts. People may not have logged in when it was available, or they may have looked right past it. The company says the total number of agency posts accounted for less than 1 of every 23,000 posts on Facebook. These "organic" posts that appeared in users' news feeds are distinct from more than 3,000 advertisements linked to the agency that Facebook has already turned over to congressional committees. The ads—many of which focused on divisive social issues—pointed people to the agency's pages, where they could then like or share its material.

(More Facebook stories.)

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