Social media executives reveal wide reach of Russian influence during last year’s election

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WASHINGTON – Top executives for social media giants Facebook, Twitter and Google faced tough questions on Capitol Hill Tuesday as new revelations detail the far reach of Russian influence in last year’s election.

Facebook alone announced posts created by Russian agents reached 126 million users.

“It appears directed at fomenting discord and inflaming discourse,” Colin Stretch said, Facebook’s vice president and general counsel.

The impact is dramatically more than the company had previous revealed. Executives described the inflammatory posts meant to create deep divisions, even perhaps promote violence among Americans on hot-button issues, they said.

“Our commitment to addressing this problem is unwavering,” Stretch said. “We take this very seriously and are committed to investing as necessary to prevent this from happening again.”

Twitter and Google executives testified to similar influence as well.

The executives will face more questions during hearings Wednesday.

Christina Hale knows the dramatic influence of social media. The former Democratic running-mate in last year’s governor’s race said social media changed campaigning, both at the state and national level, in ways never seen before.

“It’s very difficult as a candidate,” she said. “You’re just one person and you want to make sure when people are Snapchatting, Instagraming, Facebooking, all those different things that it’s accurate and reflects your position and who you are.”

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