Russian Instagram posts reached 20 million users in the US

Doris Richards
November 1, 2017

Silicon Valley giants faced an aggressive grilling by the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday morning over the role their platforms have inadvertently played in Russia's meddling in US politics.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar pressured the representatives to support her "Honest Ads" bill, which she is co-sponsoring with Sen. About 5 million advertisers buy space on the site each month.

While the link between fake news and foreign interference was initially brushed off earlier this year by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a "crazy idea", senators did not agree and pushed for tougher remedies such as regulations for political ads on the web being as strict as those on TV. The propaganda centered on the presidential election, immigration, gun rights, gay rights, and racial issues, the companies said. "If it's not a good signal then it's not a good approach", said Richard Salgado, Google law enforcement and security director.

In its statement, Facebook revealed that more than 126m users potentially saw ads bought by the Internet Research Agency, a firm with links to the Kremlin.

After those posts were liked, shared and commented on via Facebook's social network, they landed in the News Feeds of about 126 million people at some point over a two-year period, the testimony shows. They were called before the Senate Intelligence Committee this morning and will testify for the equivalent House panel this afternoon. They are the most sophisticated things invented by man, ever. Why did it take so long for Facebook, Google and Twitter to see how their platforms were used by foreign actors to influence the election? Diane Feinstein during today's hearing.

And Google said it found evidence of "limited" misuse of its services by the Russian group, as well as some YouTube channels that were likely backed by Russian agents. He demanded to know why Facebook couldn't figure out how an ad paid for in rubles had been purchased by a Russian account. They are good at seeing "signals" such as the creation of hundreds of new accounts in a short period of time, but as worldwide companies that accept advertising paid for in an array of denominations, the trick going forward will be to identify US -targeted political and issue-based ads paid for in all foreign currencies.

Blumenthal pressed Twitter's acting general counsel Sean Edgett to commit to researching how many voters may have been misled into incorrectly believing they had voted because of the posts.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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