Facebook revealed 80,000 posts published on the social network were generated by Russia-based operatives seeking to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election and reached 126 million Americans over a two-year period, according to multiple sources.
Various news organizations obtained a copy of a written testimony by Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch ahead of Facebook’s congressional hearings about Russia’s interference in last year’s presidential race.
Stretch said a Russia-backed “troll farm” called the Internet Research Agency planted content on Facebook from June 2015 to August 2017 under the guise of organic posts. He stated the 80,000 posts are equivalent to one out of 23,000 on Facebook, a small number when considering the volume of content users scroll past or engage with on their news feed.
“Put another way, if each of these posts were a commercial on television, you’d have to watch more than 600 hours of television to see something from the IRA,” wrote Stretch, according to CNN.
Facebook had previously disclosed—and handed over to congressional committees—the 3,000 Kremlin-bought political ads that were also tied to state-sponsored trolls.
“Most of the ads appear to focus on divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum, touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights,” Facebook wrote at the time.
Those ads reached roughly 10 million users, a fraction of the 126 million Facebook has revealed could have been exposed to Russian propaganda.
In the wake of these revelations, Facebook has unveiled new election integrity initiatives to curb the spread of misinformation online, including advertising transparency.