Facebook plans to offer a portal where users can see if they engaged with pages linked to Russian propaganda efforts. The portal, which Facebook says will be released by the end of the year, will show users whether they liked or followed specific Facebook or Instagram accounts backed by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency. It will track activity between January 2015 and August 2017, and be available through the Facebook Help Center.
The accounts in question were part of a broad effort to, in Facebook’s words, “sow division and mistrust” before and after the 2016 election. They ostensibly supported American political causes across the ideological spectrum, and appear to have gained some traction among actual Facebook users — at least one allegedly Russia-linked page successfully organized offline rallies. The Internet Research Agency also allegedly pushed thousands of divisive ads to 10 million people, often directing them to similarly themed pages. Facebook has since said that it’s taking more steps to prevent ads from any “inauthentic operation,” including vetting the groups behind them.
Facebook says that this portal “is part of our ongoing effort to protect our platforms and the people who use them from bad actors who try to undermine our democracy.” It’s also a way of signaling to Congress that it’s serious about transparency, after being accused of dragging its feet in the investigation over Russia-linked ads. But the tool’s capabilities are limited. It apparently won’t say whether you saw or shared posts from the accounts — only whether you engaged with them directly.