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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Saturday, January 20, 2018

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Russias social media targetting: What Americans think?

Serious Issue for a majority of Americans

Share on Facebook October 31, 2017, Reporter : bnn, Reader : 392

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WASHINGTON, U.S. - The use of social media advertising by Russia, to reach or manipulate American voters is considered to be a ‘serious issue’ for a majority of Americans.

Russia’s social media use during the 2016 Presidential election has come to the fore as federal government authorities probe the role played by prominent social media platforms in Russia’s alleged effort to swing the elections in Trump’s favor.

According to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll, 54 percent of respondents think the allegations are serious enough to warrant an investigation.

The poll reveals that 41 percent of respondents think they are more of a distraction - while, an obvious and large divide was noticed on the issue among Republicans and Democrats.

The poll showed that just one-quarter of Republicans think the allegations are a serious issue - compared to 73 percent of Republicans who think it is more of a distraction.

Meanwhile, 83 percent of Democrats think it is a serious issue and just 15 percent think it's more of a distraction.

Another glaring finding of the poll is that 43 percent of those surveyed said they don't trust the federal government or technology companies to protect the U.S. against the influence of foreign governments on social media platforms.

Further, 17 percent said they trusted technology companies, 15 percent said they trusted the federal government and 20 percent said they trusted both.

The survey of 5,474 people was conducted between October 23 and 26.

Findings of the survey have been revealed a day before executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter will testify publicly before the Congress, for the first time on how Russia used their platforms to interfere in the 2016 election.

According to sources, the companies will be sending their top lawyers, who will testify in back-to-back hearings before both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

Congressional investigators, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller, have been looking into how the tech corporations’ have been utilized by Russian operatives. 

So far, all the companies have said they are cooperating with authorities, handing over critical files and providing the public with updates.

Last week, ahead of its testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee about how Russia exploited the platform during the election, Twitter announced that it would be banning all advertisements from Russian news agencies RT and Sputnik effective immediately.

The company wrote in a statement posted on its blog, “Twitter has made the policy decision to off-board advertising from all accounts owned by Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, effective immediately. This decision was based on the retrospective work we've been doing around the 2016 U.S. election and the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that both RT and Sputnik attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government."

Facebook meanwhile introduced new rules that would impact all advertisers and revealed a new system of disclosing what groups and companies paid for ads on its platform i.e. any ads running on Facebook will be readily viewable by anyone.

The move marked the end of the so-called dark posts, ads that target only a particular set of people but are invisible otherwise because they never appear as posts on a brand or group's page. 

The ads themselves will remain available—only now they'll be visible to all.

As part of the introduction of the transparency tool - now, there will be a "view ads" icon on every page that will show exactly what messages that page's operator is buying.

Announcing the new policies in a blog post, Rob Goldman, Facebook's VP of ads said, “When it comes to advertising on Facebook, people should be able to tell who the advertiser is and see the ads they're running, especially for political ads.”

Facebook said the new transparency tools will likely be fully functioning by the midterm elections in 2018 and added that tests will start in Canada before the system reaches the U.S. by summer.

Currently, lawmakers like Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, are pushing potential new laws that would require large tech and advertising platforms to make much more information available about the political ads they run. 

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