Russian election meddling: Should tech giants have known?

Sunday, 05 November 2017, 04:53:21 PM. There were signs, some say telltale signs, of Russians using social media to meddle in last year's U.S. elections long before tech companies wised up to it. Red flags included payments in rubles for ads on hot-button, divisive issues targeted at Americans. It wasn't until late September,...
There were signs, some say telltale signs, of Russians using social media to meddle in last year's U.S. elections long before tech companies wised up to it. Red flags included payments in rubles for ads on hot-button, divisive issues targeted at Americans. It wasn't until late September, nearly a year after the elections, that Facebook disclosed that it found Russia-linked ads on its service. Twitter and Google followed. Could Facebook and other tech giants have caught the abuse earlier? Here's the case for and against: ——— IT TOOK TOO LONG These companies have very smart people working for them, all tasked not just with building new features but ensuring that existing ones work. Could Facebook, Google and Twitter really not foresee — and when it was actually happening, simply see — that Russian government-sponsored agents were posting from fake accounts and buying political ads using little-known payments providers? Could they have asked themselves why a legitimate advertiser from Russia would feel the need to target Americans on issues such as gun control and race? Or promote pro- and anti-Trump protests in American cities? Facebook has said that it focused on more traditional threats, such as hacking, early on. Then, its attention turned to fake news and propaganda, but not before CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed as "pretty crazy" the idea that false news on the company's service influenced the outcome of the elections. He later apologized, but the now-memorable quip shows...Read more
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