The 2016 election was a complete train wreck on social-media, and over 10M Americans were exposed to Russian backed propaganda spread on Facebook and Instagram. That’s not even including Twitter and Tumblr, and other social-media sites that are still constantly used by foreign governments to create a divide between the American people. As you can imagine, Facebook initially tried to downplay the role the platform had on the election, but the social-media site did confirm with congress that foreign accounts were used to place ads on the network leading up to our election last November. These ads weren’t just supporting one political party, they were also used to create tension between social groups, like the Black Live Matters movement and Law Enforcement. Many of these ads would organize rallies and protests that would stir up the most trouble, spreading propaganda meant to anger the opposing side.
After Facebook met with Congress, the social-media site promised to create an online tool that would allow users to see if they were exposed to Russian backed propaganda. You can now use that tool to see if you were exposed, or even helped share, the hateful rhetoric sent to us by a foreign power. The online tool was left on Facebook’s Help Center, and if you followed or shared any of the pages that were created by the Kremlin, it will tell you. It’s a pretty great tool, but it’s unfortunate that it was released after such an event took place.
The online tool will only show you the pages and accounts that Facebook has flagged so far, it’s very likely that many more were hidden away and are still undiscovered. It should go without saying that even if you weren’t exposed to the propaganda, we all should learn a very valuable lesson about the information we come across on Facebook. Any information, good or bad, even if it’s promoting your party or furthering cause, should be taken with a grain of salt. Users should only rely on reliable sources from now on, and learn to tell the difference between “promoted posts” and reputable information on social-media.
When you visit your family this weekend, it would be a good idea to have everyone check.