Facebook announced on Wednesday that it's creating a portal that will allow its users to see what pages created by Russian actors they may have liked or followed.
The company says that it will be rolling out the tool, which will be available in Facebook’s Help Center, by the end of the year. It will allow users to see the ads and Facebook pages created by a Kremlin-linked group that they've interacted with. The group, called the Internet Research Agency, reportedly used social media to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
As many as 150 million users on Facebook and Instagram may have seen such Russian content, which news reports and releases from congressional investigators have shown was aimed at deepening racial and social divisions between Americans around the time of the election.
The tool will let users view Facebook pages and Instagram accounts they've liked or followed between January 2015 and August 2017.
“It is important that people understand how foreign actors tried to sow division and mistrust using Facebook before and after the 2016 US election,” the company said in a statement announcing the new tool. “That's why as we have discovered information, we have continually come forward to share it publicly, and have provided it to congressional investigators.”
The feature was developed at the prodding of lawmakers like Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who sent a letter to the social media firm asking it to give users a clear way of understanding if they had been affected by Russian meddling efforts.
Rep. Terri SewellTerrycina (Terri) Andrea SewellPressure builds on Democratic leadership over HBCU funding Thousands march on Washington in voting rights push Activists gear up for voting rights march to mark King anniversary MORE (D-Ala.) also pressed the matter during a House Intelligence Committee hearing in which Facebook testified on how Russia manipulated tech platforms during the election.
“Do you not also have an obligation to let those folks know that that was a hoax, that — or at least inform them who was behind that sponsored advertisement,” Sewell asked Facebook's general counsel Colin Stretch during the November hearing.
Stretch responded that Facebook had “tried to notify people about the issue broadly through information on the website through our white paper last April and hard questions blog and working with the committee we're open to all of this information being released publicly.”
“It's a much more challenging issue to identify and notify reliably people who may have been exposed to this content on an individual basis,” he added.