Facebook is reported to soon reveal it exposed an estimated 126 million Americans, many of whom voted, to what was effectively Russian state propaganda (served from Russian webservers in Russia) during the runup to the U.S. 2016 presidential election. All of that content favored Trump, who is now President of the United States.
“Facebook will inform lawmakers this week that roughly 126 million Americans may have been exposed to content generated on its platform by the Russian government-linked troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency between June 2015 and August 2017,” CNN reported late Monday.
That estimate, which is equivalent to more than half of the total U.S. voting population, offers a new understanding of the scope of Russia's use of social media to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and in American society generally.
In written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, a copy of which was obtained by CNN, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch says that 29 million people were served content directly from the Internet Research Agency, and that after sharing among users is accounted for, a total of "approximately 126 million people" may have seen it.
Facebook does not know, however, how many of those 126 million people actually saw one of those posts, or how many may have scrolled past it or simply not logged in on the day that one of the posts was being served in their News Feed.
Stretch also says in his testimony that Facebook estimates 11.4 million people saw ads purchased by the Internet Research Agency between 2015 and 2017. But the full, organic reach of content posted by the troll farm-linked pages was more than 10 times higher.