MENLO PARK (KPIX) — A number of major Silicon Valley tech companies were called out in the Mueller Report, taking some heat for the role they played in spreading Russian disinformation.
Social media companies like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram became unwitting accomplices in a massive and sophisticated campaign by Russian agents to influence the 2016 Presidential election, according to the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that released Thursday by the Justice Department.
The goal of the Russian-led campaign was unmistakable, Mueller’s investigators concluded. Mueller’s team accused Russian agents of “sowing discord in the U.S. political system” and attempting to tilt the election in favor of President Donald Trump.
When the scope of Russian meddling in the election was finally revealed, tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr were left to grapple with the extent to which their social media platforms had been manipulated to disseminate Pro-Trump messages to millions of American voters.
“It’s time now for them to look at it from the perspective of corporate responsibility,” said cyber security expert and San Jose State University professor Ahmed Banafa.
Banafa says since the election, the companies have developed tools and technology to help them identify fake accounts and bad actors.
According to Mueller’s report, Facebook was used by Russian agents on an almost unimaginable scale. The company identified 470 fake accounts which generated 80,000 posts and reached an estimated 126 million users.
Twitter later removed 3,814 fake accounts which had been used to reach nearly 1.5 million users.
“Technology created this problem. And technology will solve this problem with the help of humans,” Banafa said.
KPIX 5 reached out to all of the tech companies named in the Mueller report to see what changes they’d made to insure that their social media platforms wouldn’t be misused in the future.
Several companies said they’d added staff to help them identify and remove fake accounts, limit the spread of false new stories and misinformation and make political advertising more transparent.
Facebook, in particular, said that they’d added more than 30,000 employees to better police their platforms.
“I think they did not consider the possibility that there could be bad players in the process who would try to manipulate the system — not for money but for votes. Their goal was to plant an idea in people’s minds that they would carry with them into the voting booth,” San Jose State Journalism Professor Bob Rucker said.
Facebook and Twitter both said they plan to use artificial intelligence to help police the internet and help them more readily and quickly identify fake accounts and bad actors.