Future Tense

Once Dismissive, Facebook Now Says 126 Million Users Shown Russian-Generated Election Propaganda

Then-Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (R) meet outside Moscow, on October 1, 2012.


First, Mark Zuckerberg poo-pooed the idea that viral misinformation helped tip the 2016 election. Then, earlier this month, the social network told Congressional investigators Russian-linked accounts had, in fact, bought several thousand ads that were seen by 10 million or so users during the 2016 campaign. On Tuesday, Facebook is set to inform lawmakers that over a two-year period leading up to the election, Russian operatives generated some 80,000 posts and the real number of users—so far—that were shown content created by Russian operatives is more like 126 million—nearly half the U.S. population of voting age. Zero to 126 million in record time.


The disclosure is part of Facebook’s testimony set to be delivered before Congress this week. Representatives from Twitter and Google are also scheduled to appear before Congress, as each has admitted, upon further investigation, that Russian-created posts were far more prevalent than first thought.


From the Washington Post:

Google acknowledged for the first time Monday that it had found evidence that Russian operatives used the company’s platforms to influence American voters, saying in a blog post that it had found 1,108 videos with 43 hours of content related to the Russian effort on YouTube. It also found $4,700 worth of Russian search and display ads.

Twitter also plans to tell congressional investigators that it has identified 2,752 accounts controlled by Russian operatives and more than 36,000 bots that tweeted 1.4 million times during the election, according to a draft of Twitter’s testimony obtained by The Post. The company previously reported 201 accounts linked to Russia.

Read more in Slate about Russia’s 2016 election meddling.