120K Instagrams by Russian election attackers hit 20M Americans

Josh Constine

Facebook detailed the extent of Russia's election interference campaign on Instagram today during its second congressional hearing. Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch said that 120,000 posts by Russian election attackers reached 16 million Americans from October through the election, and the posts reached an additional 4 million Americans prior to October.

That's on top of the 126 million Americans reached by Russian election propaganda on Facebook. It's unclear if these two groups overlap, but if not that would bring the total number to 146 million Americans. That's a big climb from the original 10 million figure Facebook originally announced as the audience of Russian election interference.

For context, yesterday Twitter said that its investigation had found 2700 accounts tied to Russia election interference, which was a steep increase from the 200 in initially announced last month. And today it noted that it deleted 106 accounts that sent over 700 vote-by-text tweets, which is an example of criminal voter suppression since you can't actually vote over SMS.

Perhaps the next investigation for congress will involve US mobile telecoms, and seek to find out just how many people actually tried to vote by text.

Stretch admitted that Facebook's data from before October is less complete. And Stretch, Twitter general counsel Sean Edgett, and Google's director of law enforcement and information security Richard Salgado all agreed that their investigations are ongoing so they can't be sure they've identified all active measures of disinformation implemented by the Russians.

Yesterday, Congress grilled these companies about their ongoing investigations, focusing on the fact that they don't actually know if U.S. shell companies are being used to hide Russian election meddlers who wanted to buy ads.