What Russia problem? Facebook smashes earnings forecasts

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Colin Stretch, Facebook's general counsel, also revealed at the Senate Intelligence Committee that the 126 million of its US users exposed to content from Russian accounts did not include Instagram - where an "additional 16 million people" viewed such content since October 2016.

Those posts came from 120 fake, Russia-backed Facebook pages, that through likes, shares, and follows reached 126 million people, or half of all eligible American voters.

In the second of three hearings this week on Russian's online information operation, members of the Senate intelligence committee challenged Facebook, Google and Twitter in strikingly direct terms that, at times, seemed to carry the implicit threat of legislation that could reign in the nation's wildly profitable technology industry.

Attorneys for Facebook, Google and Twitter have participated in a trio of federal hearings this week in which lawmakers grilled them on how they allowed a Russian influence campaign to buy ads and spread original content on issues including race, religion and gun ownership.

Silicon Valley giants faced aggressive grillings by the Senate and House Intelligence Committees Wednesday over the role their platforms have inadvertently played in Russia's meddling in USA politics. You have a huge problem on your hands and you bear the responsibility.

You've created these platforms.

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Facebook again received the bulk of scrutiny from lawmakers who expressed frustration with the world's largest social network because of its unique role in targeted marketing on the internet.

Democrats and Republicans both said the tech companies need to do more to police against foreign government abuse on their platforms.

US lawmakers have threatened tougher regulation and fired questions at Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch in hearings this week.

What was orchestrated in St. Petersburg, Russia for a cost of about $200 in Facebook ads resulted in a real-life clash covered by local news. "They are much more widespread than one election", Rubio said. It is not clear how numerous 150 million people who were served that content actually saw it.

One ad promoted a "Support Hillary - Save American Muslims" event that was set for outside the White House on July 9, 2016.

Republicans continued to downplay the role Russians had in the United States presidential election and said their main goal was the sow social discord and fan the flames of division in the US.