Facebook: Russian Ads Reached 126 Million U.S. Accounts

Approximately 126 million Americans—about half of the U.S. voting population—may have viewed Facebook posts by Russian trolls ahead of last year’s elections, the social media company has said. Those posts, authored by a Russian group posing as Americans, are believed to have been an attempt to sow discord in the U.S. orchestrated by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency. In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch said approximately 29 million Americans had posts by the Russian group placed on their Facebook pages and that the posts reached approximately 126 million accounts after other users shared them, The Wall Street Journal reports. The ads were “seemingly intended to amplify societal divisions and pit groups of people against each other,” Stretch wrote. Google and Twitter have also prepared written testimony revealing the extent of Russian manipulation during the election. Twitter has reportedly identified and removed 2,752 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency. Google said it found 1,108 videos uploaded to YouTube by accounts linked to the Kremlin, with those videos viewed 309,000 times in the U.S. from June 2015 to November 2016. The Internet Research Agency was also found to have spent $4,700 on Google’s search and display ads during the election.