“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” – Winston Churchill
It looks this morning like Sir Winston didn’t know the half of it. After months of soft-pedaling their role as enablers of Russia’s campaign to disrupt the 2016 election, executives of Facebook, Twitter and Google reportedly are set to acknowledge today that their online platforms spread Russian propaganda to millions of Americans – all at the speed of light.
Facebook alone will cop to being used to disseminate Russia-generated messages that reached 126 million people. Its prepared testimony for a Senate hearing says 80,000 pieces of divisive content about American politics were posted by the Internet Research Agency, a company linked to the Russian government, between January 2015 and last August.
Those messages initially reached 29 million Facebook users, whose “likes” and “shares” on the network spread the information to nearly 100 million more. The 29 million thus became unwitting accomplices to the Russian attack on American democracy.
The New York Times reports that Facebook also “found and deleted more than 170 accounts on its photo-sharing app Instagram; those accounts had posted about 120,000 pieces of Russia-linked content.”
The Times says Colin Stretch, Facebook’s general counsel, will tell senators that the Russia-generated posts were “an insidious attempt to drive people apart,” and “deeply disturbing.” The posts apparently focused on race, religion, gun rights, and gay and transgender issues.
While the new numbers dwarf earlier reports of the reach of Russian-backed ads on the social networks, Facebook will tell lawmakers that they were a tiny fraction of the traffic that shows up on users’ news feeds daily Between 2015 and 2017, Americans saw more than 11 trillion posts on Facebook pages.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Voting and Elections