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More Than 100 Million People Saw Russian-Backed Content on Facebook (Report)

The social network plans to disclose the information to Congressional investigators on Tuesday

Facebook will tell Congressional investigators on Tuesday more than 100 million users saw Russian-backed content on its platform before and after the 2016 U.S. election, according to an internal copy of its prepared remarks obtained by the Wall Street Journal.

The social network estimated “about 126 million people” were exposed to the pro-Kremlin posts between Jan. 2015 and Aug.  2017, stemming from a single Russian firm, the Internet Research Agency. The figure dwarfs what Facebook had shared earlier this month in a blog post, where it said an “estimated 10 million people in the U.S.” saw adertisements purchased by Russian agents.

Facebook’s new figure stretches beyond ads, including organic content like events and free posts. Altogether, the I.R.A. spit out 80,000 pieces of content — a stark jump from the 3,000 ads Facebook had turned over to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch will be testifying alongside Twitter and Google representatives when he meets with the Senate judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism on Tuesday.

“Many of the ads and posts we’ve seen so far are deeply disturbing–seemingly intended to amplify societal divisions and pit groups of people against each other,” Stretch will say, according to the prepared remarks seen by WSJ.  “They would be controversial even if they came from authentic accounts in the United States. But coming from foreign actors using fake accounts they are simply unacceptable.”

To combat fake news in future elections, Facebook said last week it was hiring thousands of workers to review posts, and introducing a “paid for by” tag on its political ads.