A series of events happened since last year has proved that internet needs to be taken seriously. There have been reports that Russian government impacted US Presidential elections. It has been known that various Russian government-backed actors tried to influence and disrupt US elections through multiple social networks and other platforms.
Facebook is the most prominent of those, where tons of ads were served to users based in the US. Earlier, the company had revealed around 10 million Facebook users had seen Russia-backed ads.
Now, according to an upcoming testimony that Facebook will present to Congress, roughly 40 million users might have seen the ads, and the total number of users who might have seen Russia-backed posts or other content is around 126 million (Source: Recode).
According to a report by WSJ, Facebook wasn’t only used as a shoulder to fire digital guns but also to trigger real-life protests in around 60 instances in the US, before and after the 2016 elections. This involved Facebook-page owners making contact with local activists and providing funds for protests and marches intended to exploit existing social divisions, instead of explicitly being pro or anti-Trump.
Moving further, Facebook isn’t the only name in the picture here. Regarding their subsidiary Instagram, around 170 accounts were deleted that had posted about 120,000 pieces of content. The other two companies which are appearing against the Congress are Google and Twitter.
The search giant has kept their lips tight on the matter until now. Now, according to a blog post, Google discovered Russian ties with around $4,700 worth of search and display ads. 18 YouTube channels uploaded around 1100 videos of different nature, and numerous Gmail addresses were used to open accounts elsewhere, says a report by Recode.
It would have been a little surprising that the most frequent platform for internet wars, Twitter, wasn’t used to spread misinformation. But yes, according to Twitter’s testimony, around 2700 accounts were backed by Russian government-sponsored Internet Research Agency. This is a tremendous rise, considering the company initially reported the existence of just 200 accounts.
Given these facts, it would be appropriate to comment on the fact whether Russia-backed powers really affected the 2016 elections. An important concern that could be seen here is that the internet has started to impact our lives and we must devise ways to save ourselves before anything irreparable happens.