Facebook announced Wednesday that it’s creating a resource for users to see if they’ve interacted with content created by a firm with alleged ties to the Kremlin.
The portal will show people if they have “liked or followed” the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company, which many say tries to influence the larger public in favor of the Russian government.
“It is important that people understand how foreign actors tried to sow division and mistrust using Facebook before and after the 2016 US election,” the company wrote in a blog post titled “Continuing Transparency on Russian Activity.” “That’s why as we have discovered information, we have continually come forward to share it publicly and have provided it to congressional investigators. And it’s also why we’re building the tool we are announcing today.”
The new feature will be available in Facebook’s Help Center by the end of 2017, and is a move addressing what the company just now sees as a Russian problem.
Facebook confirmed in September that Russian operatives of some sort deceitfully organized and promulgated political protest events in America. It also admitted to congressional investigators that it sold political ads to a Russian firm during the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
In an act of ostensibly authentic contrition, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asked for forgiveness on Yom Kippur for letting his social media platform be used “to divide people.” But within that public appeal were several points of defense for Zuckerberg.
He explained that the $100,000 figure related to the amount spent by certain Russians is very meager compared to the larger, massive political climate.
“Campaigns spent hundreds of millions advertising online to get their messages out even further. That’s 1000x more than any problematic ads we’ve found,” Zuckerberg wrote. “The data we have has always shown that our broader impact — from giving people a voice to enabling candidates to communicate directly to helping millions of people vote — played a far bigger role in this election.”
In fact, he actually seems somewhat frustrated with allegations that his platform severely influenced the 2016 presidential election, as well as the the two-pronged criticism from the head of state and many Democrats.
“Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.”
Richard Bennett, one of the original creators of the Wi-Fi system, agrees with Zuckerberg’s contention that Russian ads played such a small part when considering all else.
“For all its the emotional appeal, the idea that Russia was able to change the outcome of the presidential election with a $100,000 Facebook ad buy is absurd. If it were true, then every political consultant in the U.S. would be out of a job,” Bennett told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Hillary and her supporters spent lots of money on social media campaigns, just not as wisely as the Trump campaign. The election turned out the way it did because Hillary not only failed to win the white working class vote, she didn’t even bother to ask for it. Voters don’t like being disrespected.”
With the new tool, Facebook appears more than ready in accepting the line of reasoning behind much of public officials and the public’s clamoring. But with some of Zuckerberg’s remarks, perhaps it’s more aptly acquiescence than acceptance.
This report, by Eric Lieberman, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.