Facebook Under Fire Because of Suspected Russian Troll Accounts

Image Source: Pixabay

Image Source: Pixabay

Facebook and its leader, Mark Zuckerberg, is under fire. Not by the people who would decry how Facebook is unjust and anti-free speech with its constant handing out of ban after ban, in an attempt to put a stopper to “fake news”, but by the left-wingers and Democrat senators in the USA. Why? Because now, the Democrats are blaming the three big social media companies of Google, Facebook, and Twitter of letting Russians influence the elections.

One Year Ago

Social media has played a huge role in the US Presidential Elections of 2016. People from both sides of the political map in the US would make posts upon posts in favor of their candidate. In Facebook, accounts would buy ads and have their posts promoted. The accounts are just as diverse: some would promote Hillary Clinton, some would promote Donald Trump. They would also discuss social issues on where the US is divided the most (like Black Lives Matter or the illegal immigration issue). In Twitter, accounts would do also the same. Some would even link their posts from Facebook.

When Trump won, news came out that there was a collusion between Donald Trump and the Russians and that the Russians helped him, one way or another. This is a fallout of the incident where the Russians were rumored to have hacked into Hillary’s emails and gave them to Wikileaks. The accusations went on to create crazier rumors, like how the Russians “hacked” the US elections. However, there was no proof that the Russians actually had an agreement with Trump nor it was the Russians that hacked Hillary’s emails nor any other sort of direct action by the Russians against the US election’s electronic equipment.

It wasn’t until the Fake News purge of Facebook a few months later that Facebook claimed that a lot of these accounts were owned by Russians.

Social Media Under Siege

Colin Stretch, Facebook's lead counsel (Image Source: BBC)

Colin Stretch, Facebook’s lead counsel (Image Source: BBC)

Now Google, Facebook, and Twitter have come under fire from the US Senate to what they believe to be the ‘Russian meddling’ they were looking for: thousand of Facebook accounts owned by Russians, that talks about the presidential candidates and ‘divisive’ social issues that effectively split the US between the left-wing Democrats and the right-wing Republicans. There were even posts that spread misinformation about the election proceedings, stating that texting or posting on Twitter would be counted as a vote.

The information they have gathered was that these accounts bought thousands of ads from Facebook from Spring of 2015 till May of this year. They also claim that all 3,000 ads that were bought by these 470 “Russian troll accounts” were being operated from “a Russian troll farm in St. Petersburg called The Internet Research Agency. Russia, of course, denied the allegations. Dimitry Peskov, the spokesman for the Kremlin, said: “We have never heard of this, we do not know anything about this, let alone have anything to do with these affairs.”

Why Would Russia Do This?

One of the tweets that falsely suggest could vote via text message (Image Source: BBC)

One of the tweets that falsely suggest could vote via text message (Image Source: BBC)

To be fair, none of these accounts actually broke any rules: They just posted issues and comments that would have usually been posted by Americans themselves and other people of other nationalities anyway during the elections, except that misinformation about voting, probably.

Though if what they said was true about Russia, what would have Russia gained from this? The answer of course, probably lies in the policies of the two US presidential candidates: one was proven to have a desire to wage war with Russia, the other one doesn’t mind what Russia does. Of course, no one wants a war, especially one that could ultimately destroy the entire world. If we take this into account we could probably understand why Russia would have backed Trump instead of Hillary.

Which brings us to the current situation. People would have probably shown Facebook more pity had they not been censoring their political opposites. But now they’re the ones getting yelled at for failing to sway the elections to their favor and having their platforms used against them.