This fall saw ever-rising estimates of the number of people reached by Russian-backed troll accounts — just shy of 150 million at last count . Now the social network has at last released the tool it promised last month allowing users to see if they liked or followed one of the many pages or pieces of content put online during the sketchy attempt at mass manipulation.
Far from shouting the availability of this tool from the rooftops, Facebook waited until the Friday before Christmas, a traditional dumping-ground for items companies would rather go unnoticed, and then stuck the tool deep in the help pages. Nice try, Facebook!
To its credit, though, the tool is remarkably simple to use. Just go to this page and it should display any of the accounts created by Russia’s Internet Research Agency that you might have liked or followed. If you log into your Instagram account, it’ll show that info too.
If you followed some of the shady accounts, it’ll look like this:
If the box is empty, that doesn’t mean you weren’t exposed to the content in question, just that you didn’t engage with it. You may still very well be among the lucky 146 million. No doubt Facebook could tell you whether that’s the case or not, but the optics on telling people directly are pretty bad — everyone would take a screenshot and post it with the caption “WTF!” or “OMG Facebook is broken!”
We look forward to similar tools from other major companies that have discovered attempts at election interference on their platforms.