In the summer of 2015, Facebook was flooded with ads bought and paid for by Russian research agencies or “troll farms”. Over 3,000 ads were created with over $100,000 to try and interfere with the 2016 elections. These ads were intent on creating doubt and division within the US before the elections. Using metadata, these ads targeted specific groups of people to utilize their effectiveness. Over 126 million users were exposed, and now there’s a tool to find out if you’re one of those impacted.
Facebook’s New Tool
Facebook announced that its new tool will help you find out if you’ve liked any page associated with the Russian ads on Facebook or Instagram. So, you can now find them and unlike them. Facebook announced the reason they’re releasing this tool:
It is important that people understand how foreign actors tried to sow division and mistrust using Facebook before and after the 2016 US election. 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.
It’s part of their help center and can be accessed through it or just by clicking here.
The controversy stemmed from how these pages influenced the 2016 elections. Both sides of the election have made claims of Russian interference, and both sides have also denied those claims. Earlier this year, President Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and asked him about the interference. The New York Times quoted him:
He said he didn’t meddle — I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. I just asked him again. He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.
Even though he seems to have put the claims to rest, the FBI and other Congressional investigators are still looking into the influence these ads had, and who may have paid for them.