Russian agents crushed it on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube during the election

October 31, 2017, 10:09am

Executives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google head to Washington this week for a round of questioning from congressional panels on the disinformation and Russia-linked political ads that flooded their platforms during the 2016 election.

The hearings, which start Tuesday afternoon, come just a day after the special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling netted two indictments and a guilty plea from former Trump campaign officials, setting the stage for an even deeper reckoning over how the Kremlin sought to sway the presidential contest.

But just how bad was Russian influence on social media during the election? Here it is, by the numbers:

Facebook

126 million people

That’s how many Americans—roughly a third of the population—saw Russia-created Facebook content between January 2015 and August 2017, according to the latest disclosures from the social network.

80,000 pieces of content

The Internet Research Agency, a shadowy internet company linked to the Kremlin, reached these people by posting 80,000 pieces of free content on the site, meant to inflame debate on divisive social issues like race, religion, gun rights, and LGBT issues. It originally reached 29 million people, but its audience quintupled as users liked, shared and commented.

This blows previous Facebook estimates out of the water. Paid political ads from the Internet Research Agency, which Facebook reported at the beginning of October, reached around 11.4 million people.

120,000 posts

Russia-linked accounts also posted about 120,000 photos across 170 accounts on Instagram, which Facebook owns.

Twitter

288 million impressions

Twitter also released information about Russian meddling in the run-up to the hearings on the Hill this week, disclosing that 36,746 Russia-linked accounts posted 1.4 million election-related tweets , whichgot 288 million impressions.

131,000 tweets

The Internet Research Agency also tweeted roughly 131,000 times across 2700 accounts.

In just 3 months

Twitter analyzed a much more limited period than Facebook did: Sept. 1 to Nov. 15, 2016.

Google

$4,700

Google, meanwhile, disclosed what looks to be the smallest Russian footprint of the three. The Internet Research Agency purchased $4,700 in ads on the search engine.

43 hours of content

But Russia didn’t stop there. Russian agents were “likely associated” with 18 YouTube channels that posted 43 hours of video between 2015 and summer 2017.

309,000 views

These videos didn’t exactly go viral, though. All together, they only got around 309,000 views between 2015 and late 2016.