Russian agents intending to sow discord among American citizens disseminated inflammatory posts that reached 126 million users on Facebook, published more than 131,000 messages on Twitter and uploaded over 1,000 videos to Google’s YouTube service, according to copies of prepared remarks from the companies that were obtained by The New York Times.
The detailed disclosures, sent to Congress on Monday by companies whose products are among the most widely used on the internet, came before a series of congressional hearings this week into how third parties used social networks and online services to influence millions of Americans before the 2016 presidential election.
Facebook says 126 million Americans may have seen Russia-linked political posts
Facebook Inc said on Monday that Russia-based operatives published about 80,000 posts on the social network over a two-year period in an effort to sway U.S. politics and that about 126 million Americans may have seen the posts during that time.
Facebook’s latest data on the Russia-linked posts – possibly reaching around half of the U.S. population of voting age – far exceeds the company’s previous disclosures. It was included in written testimony provided to U.S. lawmakers, and seen by Reuters, ahead of key hearings with social media and technology companies about Russian meddling in elections on Capitol Hill this week.
Russian content on Facebook, Google and Twitter reached far more users than companies first disclosed, congressional testimony says
Facebook plans to tell lawmakers on Tuesday that 126 million of its users may have seen content produced and circulated by Russian operatives, many times more than the company had previously disclosed about the reach of the online influence campaign targeting American voters.
The company previously reported that an estimated 10 million users had seen ads bought by Russian-controlled accounts and pages. But Facebook has been silent regarding the spread of free content despite independent researchers suggesting that it was seen by far more users than the ads were.