19:10 GMT +315 December 2017
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    A big logo created from pictures of Facebook users worldwide is pictured in the company's Data Center, its first outside the US on November 7, 2013 in Lulea, in Swedish Lapland

    Facebook to Launch Tool Telling Users if They Interacted With Russia-Linked Ads

    © AFP 2017/ JONATHAN NACKSTRAND
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    The new tool will be available by the end of the year, marking a new step by the social media giant amid the ongoing investigation into alleged Russian attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in the US via ads on digital platforms.

    Facebook has announced it is now developing a portal that will allow its users to see whether they liked or followed pages sponsored by Russia-linked accounts.

    "We will soon be creating a portal to enable people on Facebook to learn which of the Internet Research Agency Facebook Pages or Instagram accounts they may have liked or followed between January 2015 and August 2017," Facebook said in a blog post.

    ​The company justifies the move, saying it is aimed against "bad actors who try to undermine our democracy."

    "It is important that people understand how foreign actors tried to sow division and mistrust using Facebook before and after the 2016 US election," the statement read.

    The tool will be initially available to US users of the social media. A spokesperson for Facebook told RT that the service will apply specifically to accounts allegedly linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA). Thus, if a person did not personally follow content linked to the IRA he or she may never know if they were exposed to it; for example, if content was shared by a friend and then promoted to the newsfeed. The company clarified that the use of the mechanism would not be publically disclosed and would not show up in a user’s newsfeed.

    READ MORE: New Facebook Transparency Rules: Political Ads to 'Verify Their Identity'

    The announcement has prompted mixed reactions on social media, with many users criticizing the company.

    Nearly 150 million users on Facebook and Instagram may have seen ads by the Internet Research Agency, a structure allegedly linked to the Russian government, the company previously told US investigators, as part of an ongoing probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election in the US. Russia has denied the allegations, saying Moscow never interferes with other countries’ domestic affairs, including through digital ads.

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    social media, investigation, "Russian meddling", Facebook, Russia, United States
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