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Tech Companies Testify On Capitol Hill, Detail Russian Interference Efforts

01 Noviembre 2017, 01:53 | Bibiana Flor

Facebook will publicly share the divisive ads purchased by Russian-linked operatives. Justin Tallis AFP Getty Images

Facebook will publicly share the divisive ads purchased by Russian-linked operatives.                  Justin Tallis  AFP  Getty Images

Often, especially in elections with less public interest, ads have the power to push results one way or the other, and assuming results dictate policy, have the power to influence outcomes for all of us.

University of South Florida professor Kelli Burns was initially cited in 2016 as reporting that she had tested the theory by talking about topics within earshot of her phone and was then shown related ads on Facebook.

Testimony from Facebook obtained by the Associated Press on Monday revealed that posts generated by a Russian internet agency potentially reached as many as 126 million users.

The resulting numbers aren't pretty, though it must be said that with engagement on Facebook, the numbers are astronomical to begin with, so even tiny fractions of overall activity end up with 9 or 10 figures. If we make it more difficult to spread information, put up more barriers against nefarious infiltration, make it the law that consumers have a right to export their data, and enable them to escape Facebook and spread out and form new homes and discussion hubs online, we might do a good job of ensuring a less misinformed electorate.

The firms said they were troubled by "abuse" of their services and pledged to take it seriously.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) started the hearing by describing it as a national security challenge.

The idea is that rather than something actually appearing more often, instead you're simply noticing it more because you've engaged with the idea of it.

A long-held conspiracy theory - that Facebook is listening in on conversations to target us with adverts - has resurfaced again on social media. "And we are determined to do everything we can to address this new threat", Stretch says in the testimony.

But Facebook has said as many as 126 million American users may have seen content uploaded by Russia-based operatives over the past two years.

Exasperated U.S. senators harshly criticized representatives of Facebook, Twitter and Google at a hearing Tuesday for not doing more to prevent Russian agents interfering with the American political process as early as 2015.

PJ Vogt-the presenter of tech podcast Reply All-spoke about the claims on a recent show, which involved people calling in with their own tales of possible Facebook spying. Maybe, most importantly, they need to ask: Are Facebook and Google too big?

Previously, Facebook had focused its disclosures on Russian ads. It will be hosted by The Information founder and editor-in-chief Jessica Lessin and will feature Nancy Scola, Politico Pro senior technology reporter, and The Information reporter Cory Weinberg.

According to the audit, two accounts linked to the Russian troll farm spent $4,700 on ads on Google platforms. And this sophisticated targeting has been critical to Facebook's success.

These "organic" posts that appeared in Facebook users' news feeds are distinct from more than 3,000 advertisements linked to the agency that Facebook has already turned over to congressional committees.

Facebook's terms of service prohibit content that is "hate speech, threatening, or. incites violence".

Stretch's response was that in 2016, Facebook was intent on making sure accounts were not compromised and content wasn't stolen or compromised.

The tech companies have come under considerable pressure from Congress after it came to light earlier this year that Russians had infiltrated their platforms.

Lawmakers may also scrutinize Google's display advertising business, which provides revenue for millions of websites, some of which have been flagged for spreading misinformation.



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