Facebook data leak exposes Balkan troll farm political disinformation

Occurred: September 2021

Troll farms reached 140 million US Facebook users per month and nearly half of all Americans in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, according to a leaked document.

Authored by former Facebook data scientist Jeff Allen and leaked to the Technology Review, the document revealed that 75 percent of US users consumed troll content not because they followed a page but because Facebook’s recommendation engine proactively served it to them.

Largely based in the Balkans, the troll farms were seen to have targeted four primary groups - American Indians, Black Americans, Christian Americans, and American women - with a mixture of propaganda, misinformation and disinformation.

According to the Technology Review, Allen left Facebook shortly after writing the document, partly because the company 'effectively ignored' his research.

System 🤖

Documents 📃

Operator: Meta/Facebook
Developer: Meta/Facebook
Country: US
Sector: Politics
Purpose: Scare/confuse/destabilise
Technology: Content recommendation system
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Mis/disinformation
Transparency: Governance; Black box

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: October 2021
Page updated: June 2024