Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg maintains that abuse of his platform had no impact on the 2016 presidential election, but an investigation performed by the social media giant confirms that fake accounts regularly shared fake news intended to sway it.
The company says it found numerous “information operations” — a term Facebook uses for governments and organizations who spread fake news, troll, and basically do everything in their power to sway elections.
While the company did not say who the targets were or who was behind the attacks, it said that the findings “do not contradict” U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s Jan 6 report on Vladimir Putin’s attempt to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump. CNBC reports:
Although it said it saw no evidence that accounts were hacked during the election, Facebook said it saw malicious accounts making people aware of stolen information from sources like email accounts, with the intent the data could be used to tarnish specific political figures. It also detected fake accounts created to share this private information, as well as pages to further propagate news accounts sharing the stolen content. Because of the boost in attention, other real accounts began to share the private information as well, Facebook said.
Facebook also acknowledged it saw groups using fake accounts to share false information, but said the effects of these efforts were “marginal.” NBC News and other publications reported how users in other countries earned money during the presidential election season by writing fake news meant to appeal to Trump supporters, posting links to that content Facebook and collecting money from advertisements that appeared on the sites.
Overall, Facebook does not think any of these efforts had much effect on the outcome of the election, writing, “while we acknowledge the ongoing challenge of monitoring and guarding against information operations, the reach of known operations during the US election of 2016 was statistically very small compared to overall engagement on political issues.”
It’s understandable that Facebook would attempt to protect its image by denying the obvious effect of numerous fake account sharing stories that have managed to convince conservatives that Hillary Clinton secretly runs a child prostitution operation out of the basement of a D.C. pizza joint that doesn’t have a basement, or that she committed any number of crimes, had on the election — but the truth is that we saw unprecedented interference on the part of the Trump-Russia alliance.
The important thing here is yet another source confirms what 17 intelligence agencies know: that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin worked together to get Hillary Clinton out of the picture.
Featured image via screengrab