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    October 30, 2017

    John McCain, Facebook team up against "Russian operatives"

    October 30 , 2017 - Fort Russ News - 




    Facebook Inc has testified 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. The social network suggests that this amount of people may have been the significant sway against Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential election. 

    Executives from Facebook, Twitter Inc and Google are now scheduled to appear before three congressional committees this week, on the "alleged Russian attempts to spread misinformation in the months before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election"  writes Reuters. 

    Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch said in the written testimony; "80,000 posts from Russia's Internet Research Agency (as the "Russian online troll farm" is known) were a tiny fraction of content on Facebook, equal to 1 out of 23,000 posts. However, the posts violated Facebook's terms of service and any amount of such activity, such as using fake accounts is too much" wrote Stretch.

    "These actions run counter to Facebook's mission of building community and everything we stand for. And we are determined to do everything we can to address this new threat" he concluded.

    The 80,000 posts were published between June 2015 and August 2017 and most of them focused on "divisive social and political messages such as race relations and gun rights."

    Facebook is therefore suggesting that social network users interested in important social and political debates within the United States may be "Russian operatives" and has toughened its policy this week on any kind of "advertising" with a political message. It is not yet clear whether this will extend only to paid advertising, or all kinds of 'advertising' through status updates. 

    No evidence has yet been presented to the public of a digital trace to a "troll farm" based in Russia, linking the posts to the alleged users. To presuppose that the posts exist or existed - what kind of political ad would it take to decisively sway an opinion from one candidate to another? 

    Twitter has gone a step further and banned all advertising for Russia's major media networks this week. "They're trying really hard to get ahead of the idea of regulation", said a CBSN reporter, Heather Timmons. 

    In turn, the "Honest Ad" Bill is being led by Senator John McCain, which will now regulate political facebook ads, "the way they are on television." The advertising party will need to disclose who is paying for the ad, where the funds come from initially, who the target recipient is and why. 

    The committee hearings will also be broadcast to the public - "so there is no chance to say - oh, this is fake news - it will all be here in the open, blow by blow."- said Timmons.

      

    *It is alleged that 29 million people were delivered content directly, and 126 million through sharing of posts. 






    Inessa Sinchougova is an Editor and Journalist at Fort Russ News, as well as a research fellow and translator of the Belgrade based think-tank, the Center for Syncretic Studies. She was educated at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand), in the field of Political Science and was previously employed in Marketing and Communications Strategy for a Multi-National Corporation. She runs a popular YouTube channel for translations of key Russian Foreign Policy figures and appears regularly on other alternative media channels.  

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