Facebook Creating Tool to Address Russian Activity

Facebook Creating Tool to Address Russian Activity

Facebook will soon release a tool that lets you see whether you interacted with any Russia-run Facebook pages during the 2016 election. Not too long ago, The Guardian reported that 126 million Americans probably saw Russia-backed pages that were working to interfere with the most recent presidential election. Facebook thinks there were likely 120 fake pages working to influence the political atmosphere from 2015 up to this year.

Since all this news has come out about the political trolling that happened on Facebook, many people have surely wondered whether they were the victims of any of these fake pages. Many people interacted with the fake pages and had no idea what the underlying agendas really were. Facebook’s upcoming tool is the answer to this.

In a press release titled “Continuing Transparency on Russian Activity,” Facebook wrote on the 22nd that they were working on a “portal” that would help people figure out how they interacted with the Russian Internet Research Agency on both Facebook and Instagram. Specifically, it will show whether a user liked or followed any of these Russia-run pages from 2015 to 2017. This tool will be released before the year ends.

The screenshot in Facebook’s press release shows a section in the Facebook Help Center that features the soon-to-be-released tool. In the screenshot, it shows a list of different pages (with some examples including “Being Patriotic” and “Blacktivist”) with the pages’ profile photos. Next to each page is a “Like/Follow Date” that shows when the page was interacted with.

Of course, so far it looks like it will only show whether you liked a page or followed it. Based on what has been released so far, it doesn’t appear to show whether you simply liked a post or commented on one. These pages could have influenced many people even if users simply saw them shared from friends and then interacted with individual posts.

This portal, though, will at least show whether a user was following or supporting a page that Facebook says “tried to sow division and mistrust” over the course of the last election. It’s important to know whether we have seen and trusted these pages, because it may help us learn how to spot misleading news and posts in the future. Facebook and other online sites can be powerful tools in the wrong hands, and Facebook’s upcoming portal in the Help Center may be able to show us just how influential these political pages have been.