Last weekend, while further research Facebook gave testimony to the Senate Judiciary last fall, other evidence grabbed Albright's attention. In a written response to the committee, Facebook's general counsel, Colin Stretch, told Senator Dianne Feinstein that 1.8 million people have followed at least one Facebook page related to the Russian propaganda organization Internet Research Agency (IRA) - but the answer did not mention these How many fans get on Instagram with Network Spray. Albright's calculations show that the answer may be millions.
Facebook told Congress last fall that it has deleted 170 IRA-related Instagram accounts. Albright discovers 27 of these accounts and confirms it as an agent account by cross-referencing congressional exhibitions or press references. He downloaded data on these sites in October using a social media analysis site called SocialBlade and found that they had nearly 2.2 million followers. If there are 2.2 million followers in such a small part of the Instagram account, how many followers all Russia "spray" have on Instagram?
In a statement, a Facebook spokesman said: "We did not count at least one person who is interested in an Instagram account associated with an Internet research institute."
When asked why they did not figure it out, the spokesman said: "We were not asked to provide this information."
Facebook did indeed provide the total number of Instagram fans for all spray accounts to the Parliamentary Commission investigating the Russian intervention. But Facebook said the actual number of people with at least one account on Instagram is still unknown. The Facebook account provided to the Parliamentary Committee did not consider those who might follow multiple accounts created by the agency (using the Facebook terminology, eliminating duplication as deduplication). In addition, because some Instagram accounts are managed by many and some by multiple people, not every account is associated with an individual user. Facebook said that these factors make it more difficult to determine the actual number of people follow the account on Instagram, rather than the number of people on Facebook, which requires at least the user to set up an account using the real name. Instagram did not respond to Wired's comment request.
The spokesman said the number of fans is less important because people typically find Instagram content through "exploration." He said that more people might have discovered Russian spray content casually through Instagram's Explore portal, but those who follow these accounts are often influenced by content such as splintering or racism. This is why fans are so important.
Since the issue raised by Feinstein in the fall did not exclude Instagram, Facebook has never been asked to provide information on how many people are following these accounts. "Your company has identified accounts related to Internet Research Institutes (IRAs): how many people follow these accounts?" She asked. It's a little more daring when you consider the extent to which Russian spray is aggressive on Instagram; according to Facebook's own testimony, the agency has 170 Instagram accounts compared to 120 webpages hosted on Facebook. These Instagram accounts share 120,000 promotional content, while the content on Facebook is 80,000.