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Facebook will tell users if they interacted with Russian propaganda

FACEBOOK IS BUILDING a tool designed to show people if they interacted with politically-motivated propaganda on the social network in the run-up, and aftermath, of the US election. 

The growing concern around Facebook’s role in the outcome of the US election is palpable – from posts shared by Russian bots to paid-for advertising put in front of some 126 million US residents. 

On Wednesday, Facebook said that the new portal will be live before the end of the year, and is aimed at showing people how Russia-backed posts were targeted to cause social unrest. 

“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 the announcement.  

While it’s a step in the right direction, the tool won’t be entirely useful in identifying how far posts from the Russia-back Internet Research Agency (IRA) spread.

The tool, as it’s been presented by Facebook at this stage, will only show whether people ‘Liked’ or followed Facebook Pages or Instagram accounts connected to the IRA. However, that won’t cover people that saw Russia-backed posts shared by friends in their News Feed, just people that actually interacted with them. 

Back in April, Facebook finally admitted that its lack of oversight had allowed political groups to abuse the network for propaganda purposes. Fast-forward over six months and it’s still trying to tackle its fake news problem.

It’s a fine line for Facebook, playing down the role it played in US elections while still remaining effective for advertisers. Claiming to reach more people than actually exist isn’t a good start though. µ

Source : Inquirer

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