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This article was published on December 22, 2017

New Facebook tool reveals if your account was a cog in the Russian propaganda machine

New Facebook tool reveals if your account was a cog in the Russian propaganda machine
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

A new Facebook tool allows users to see just how vulnerable they were to Russian propaganda during the 2016 election. The tool, conveniently tucked away in Facebook’s Help Center, scans past posts in an attempt to link them to known propaganda Pages, some of which have since been deleted.

During the last election cycle, Facebook estimates some 140 million users may have viewed Russian propaganda in their Newsfeed, or on Instagram. Largely focused on highly divisive partisan talking points like gun control, LGBTQ issues, race, and religion, the ads sought to drive an even larger wedge between the two major political parties in an attempt to sow political unrest and decrease confidence in the democratic process.

All told, Facebook estimates these propaganda outfits spent more than $100,000 on political ads last year.

Facebook’s new tool, which it first previewed last month, allows users who may have fallen victim to the message spread by these phony outlets to see which Pages they’ve Liked or followed that were later linked to Russian propaganda.

Unfortunately, only a handful of the 140 million affected will actually see any results. It only displays interaction that came directly from one of the accounts or Pages set up by Russian operatives on Instagram or Facebook. Meaning, if you Liked a status or followed a Page from your friends’ Newsfeed, the tool is utterly useless.

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