More details on Russian agents using social media to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election continue to trickle out, with a Facebook Vice President saying Wednesday its Messenger platform was used by a select amount of pro-Kremlin trolls to spread fake news.
“My understanding is that it’s a very small number,” said Messenger head honcho David Marcus at The Wall Street Journal’s D.Live conference in Laguna Beach, Calif. “The way that the platform was used is still being investigated right now on the Messenger side of things, but traditionally if you’re a page, for instance, you cannot message people. So people have to message you.”
Facebook recently shared it had spotted 470 accounts tied to Russian meddling — with some of those using Messenger to reach out to American users. Marcus didn’t add much else on how Messenger was exploited. “The way the platform was being used is still being investigated,” he said.
The social network has faced increased scrutiny in recent months, after announcing that more than $100,000 worth of fake ads had been purchased before and after last year’s U.S. presidential election. Facebook has turned over about 3,000 of the dubious ads to congressional investigators, and company execs will head to Washington, D.C. next month on Nov. 1 to talk about the issue.
Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it’s “not realistic” to prevent “all interference” on its platform, but that the company had shut down “thousands of fake accounts.” Marcus made a similar comment on Wednesday, saying “clearly, when you design a platform that reaches 2 billion people every month, sometimes bad things happen and we shouldn’t tolerate those things.”