The outcome of the 2016 US presidential elections has raised the questions of involvement of Russia in the victory of Donald Trump. According to reports, Russia has impacted the 2016 Presidential elections using social media to spread fake news.
The three major social media giants used by the country to post disinformation are Facebook, Twitter, and Google. On Tuesday, at the Senate Judiciary subcommittee, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch, Twitter’s Acting General Counsel Sean Edgett, and Google’s director of law enforcement and information security Richard Salgado have gathered to testify how Russia influenced the 2016 US presidential elections using their platform.
According to a report by Cnet, in a written testimony submitted to the committee, Colin Stretch acknowledged that 80,000 backed-up posts were seen by roughly 29 million users on Facebook from a single Russian operation in St. Petersburg. An estimated number of 126 million users could have seen these posts as they are liked, shared and commented by Facebook users. But the company said that the paid ads are seen in a small fraction of posts backed-up by Russia. Previously, Facebook has revealed that only 10 million Facebook users had seen these ads(3,000) on which Russians spent around $100,000.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, admins of these Facebook accounts also used this social media giant for organizing around 60 real-life protests in U.S by making contact with the local activists before and after the presidential elections.
When it comes to Instagram around 170 accounts were deleted for posting about 120,000 pieces of content.
According to Google, Russians “uploaded over a thousand videos to YouTube on 18 different channels”. The company discovered around $4,700 worth of search and display ads associated with Russian ties. Around 1100 videos were uploaded of different content and to upload the videos various Gmail accounts were opened.
Moving on to Twitter, the company confirmed that around 2700 accounts were associated with Internet Research Agency, a Russian-backed troll farm. There’s a huge increase in the number of accounts as Twitter initially reported only 200 accounts to spread the misinformation.
With the combined figures the misinformation has reached to more than 414 million users of Facebook and Twitter. Although President Donald Trump denied any involvement in these acts. These latest twists in this high profile investigation make it clear that Social Media can make a big change in our lives including the political decisions we make.