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Facebook said 126 million Americans received Russian-backed election content

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Approximately 126 million Americans received Russian-backed content on Facebook during the 2016 presidential race, according to NBC News.

NBC News on Monday reported that it confirmed the total with prepared testimony Facebook submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee the same day.

Facebook said in the testimony that about 29 million Americans directly got material from 80,000 posts by 120 fake Russian-backed pages in their individual news feeds last year.

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“[Those posts were] shared, liked and followed by people on Facebook, and, as a result, three times more people may have been exposed to a story that originated from the Russian operation,” the company said.

Facebook estimated that posts from Russian-backed accounts from January 2015 to August 2017 reached potentially half of the 250 million Americans who are eligible to vote.

A person familiar with the issue said that none of the 80,000 posts generated on fake Russian-backed pages includes 3,000 Facebook ads purchased by Russian entities.

The shared content that Facebook estimated reached 126 million Americans – or a third of the national population – may also have proven difficult for users to see as coming from Russia.

The testimony from Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch was submitted to the Judiciary panel before a Tuesday hearing with executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter.

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Tuesday’s hearing is part of the congressional inquiry into Russia’s use of such social media platforms to try influencing last year’s presidential race.

Two sources told NBC News on Monday that Twitter found 36,746 automated accounts that were linked to Russia between September 1 and November 15, 2016.

These bot accounts tweeted 1.4 million times and were seen 288 million times during that span of time.

Stretch said in his prepared testimony that Facebook has said the Russian-backed entities violated the company’s policies.

“[They] came from a set of coordinated, inauthentic accounts,” he says in his testimony. “We shut these accounts down and began trying to understand how they misused our platform.”

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