Facebook announced Wednesday it would allow users to check whether they interacted with content linked to a Russian troll farm that reached millions of Americans. It will be accessible via the Facebook Help Center, the company said in its extremely brief blog post.
Based on a preview of the tool Facebook released, it appears users will be given a list of the Russia-linked Pages and Instagram accounts they've liked and followed, as well as the date when that took place.
Over a two-year period around the 2016 election, Facebook said that about 29 million U.S. users directly saw content in their News Feeds produced by the Internet Research Agency, the Kremlin's official troll army.
In written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism in October, Facebook estimated that 29 million users had been served content directly from the Internet Research Agency, and some 126 million users may have been exposed after friends shared, liked, or commented on the content.
The company said: "It is important that people understand how foreign actors tried to sow division and mistrust using Facebook before and after the 2016 United States election". It also requires people find out themselves if they followed/Liked any of these accounts, rather than Facebook notifying them.
Divisive social media posts and ads were used as part of a wider Russian plot to sow divisions within the USA ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.
Tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google, were initially dismissive of Russia's threat, but they all pledged to make improvements amid pressure from lawmakers..
Some 126 million Americans were exposed to this content on Facebook, with 20 million more also seeing the controversial posts on Instagram, Facebook's top lawyer Colin Stretch told U.S. lawmakers last month.
Facebook will only be showing people the names of the pages and accounts, not the content.
California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who is the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, called Facebook's move a "very positive step".
Although the social media giant initially stated it wanted to keep itself separate from the content posted on its site, the numbers and results of the 2016 United States elections made it impossible to ignore the problem.