Even two years later, we all remember the 2016 political season. Maybe not for the campaigns or even about the results, but because of how much of a role social media played in it all.
Friends and family turned against each other and, if not, gained a better idea of who and what they all supported. Really, there was no way you could log into Facebook and not see posts related to elections or political topics.
Another thing that entered our lives around that time was fake news, generally promoted by fake news sites. We have since learned that Russia was behind much of it, with the general idea being to sow discord in the United States.
Want to know if you were duped?
On Thursday, House Democrats released an archive of the 3,500 Facebook ads purchased by Russia. The Russian Internet Research Agency, or IRA, also created and ran upwards of 470 pages.
In all, more than 11.4 million Americans came across the ads, while the pages shared more than 80,000 pieces of content. The thing is, even if you came across any of it you may not realize it.
You certainly didn’t notice then, and you may not be thinking anything of it now. But if you want to know if you did come across, either reading or “liking” a story or page created by Russia, you can.
Facebook created a way
As part of their effort to at least give the appearance of transparency, Facebook came up with a tool that will let you see if you were fooled by a Russian ad.
To do this, make sure you are logged into your Facebook account and then click on this link.
What you should see is, in the darker box at the top of the page, a note that says “Hi [your name], how can we help?” That means you are logged in, and the information below is accurate.
As for what it tells you, the page is pretty straightforward.
Facebook also owns Instagram, so there is an option to log into that, too, to see if you are following any IRA-linked accounts. If you were not involved with any, the page will remain blank.
If you got tricked, they will show up in the box with some details on what the page was and when you came across it.
What does it all mean?
Maybe your page will be blank, and for that, you will feel pretty good. Or, perhaps yours has some sites in it, making you feel a bit uneasy.
It’s all understandable, but it’s important to remember these pages were created with the intent to deceive and rile people up. As contentious as the 2016 election was, emotions were running high and the RIA took full advantage of that.
Many people on both sides of the aisle were preyed on, as the entire point of the “attack” was to turn Americans against each other. The circumstances surrounding it all, including the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, has led to Facebook producing more information and providing more tools so that we can try to get a grasp on what exactly happened.
And if nothing else, a little extra knowledge is never a bad thing.
Facebook has a lot to answer for, but it doesn’t help if they lie
Facebook’s lawyer testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee back in October 2017. Looking back, it is apparent he may not have been entirely honest and given that he was under oath at the time, this is kind of a big deal. Click here to read all about it.