Russian Propaganda Reached 126 Million Facebook Users, Far More Than First Disclosed

MENLO PARK (CBS SF) – The reach of Russian content on Facebook to influence American voters was more than ten times greater than originally disclosed, according to several published reports.

According to disclosures of draft testimonies scheduled on Capitol Hill this week, 126 million Facebook users were exposed to content “produced and circulated by Russian operatives.” The posts were part of a disinformation campaign intended to sway the 2016 presidential election in favor of then-candidate Donald Trump.

Last September, the social media megagiant admitted a Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency, purchased about 3,000 ads, but estimated only 10 million users were exposed to the content. The troll farm also published free content.

Facebook’s General Counsel Colin Stretch is expected to testify Tuesday at one of three scheduled hearings on Capitol Hill. According to the Washington Post, he will disclose that over a two-year period leading up to the 2016 U.S. election, Russians published 80,000 fake stories that were liked, shared and commented on by about 126 million Facebook users.

This latest disclosure comes as tech companies have come under increasing pressure after investigators found Russia meddled in the 2016 elections and used social media to propagate false news to influence American voters.

On Monday, Google admitted it was compromised, saying that Russian trolls uploaded more than a thousand videos to YouTube. Fake Russian accounts were on Twitter, as well.

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