Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Manu Fernadez / AP

More than half of the Facebook's users in the United States were exposed to Russian attempts to sow discord before and after the 2016 presidential election, a company executive will tell lawmakers Tuesday, while arguing that the reach of the campaign was still limited given the platform's massive scale. Google and Twitter will also disclose that the Russian influence campaign stretched beyond what they've previously discussed publicly.

Why it matters: It demonstrates how Facebook's mechanics allowed the Russian operatives to reach far beyond just those people who followed their fake pages and account. Significantly, for lawmakers, it underscores that the roughly 3,000 ads that Facebook disclosed in September from the Russian pages were just one small piece of the puzzle.

According to written testimony obtained by Axios, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch will tell three congressional committees over the next two days that the company's "best estimate is that approximately 126 million people may have been served one" of the stories posted by roughly 470 Russian pages between June, 2015 and August, 2017. Facebook has 213 million monthly active users in the United States.

How it worked: Around 29 million users were exposed to content from the Russian pages directly, the company said. That amounted to approximately 80,000 pieces of content in the two-year period the company examined. That content was then shared, magnifying the reach of the pages broadly.

Decoded: When Facebook says content was "served" to users, it means that content appeared in their feeds, not that the users engaged with the content or even saw it for a meaningful amount of time. Ad buyers generally believe you have to see a message multiple times for it to have an effect on you.

Yes, but: Stretch will argue that the reach of the Russian campaign was a relative drop in the bucket compared to the large amount of content posted to Facebook during that period. "Put another way, if each of these posts were a commercial on television, you'd have to watch more than 600 hours of television to see something from the IRA," he'll say, adding, "Though the volume of these stories was a tiny fraction of the overall content on Facebook, any amount is too much."

Facebook is not the only one of the three companies testifying tomorrow that will acknowledge that the scale of Russian election meddling efforts were broader than they previously disclosed. The Washington Post reports that Google has said for the first time that over a thousand videos were uploaded to YouTube by Russian trolls on 18 separate channels.

  • Twitter will tell lawmakers that it has discovered thousands of previously-undisclosed accounts tied to the Russian troll farm behind the Facebook campaign, according to a sources familiar with its testimony.

Go deeper

Updated 21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

DOJ: Capitol rioter threatened to "assassinate" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Supporters of former President Trump storm the U.S. Captiol on Jan. 6. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Texas man who has been charged with storming the U.S. Capitol in the deadly Jan. 6 siege posted death threats against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Department of Justice said.

The big picture: Garret Miller faces five charges in connection to the riot by supporters of former President Trump, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and making threats. According to court documents, Miller posted violent threats online the day of the siege, including tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”

Schumer calls for IG probe into alleged plan by Trump, DOJ lawyer to oust acting AG

Jeffrey Clark speaks next to Deputy US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at a news conference in October. Photo: Yuri Gripas/AFP via Getty Images.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Saturday called for the Justice Department inspector general to investigate an alleged plan by former President Trump and a DOJ lawyer to remove the acting attorney general and replace him with someone more willing to investigate unfounded claims of election fraud.

Driving the news: The New York Times first reported Friday that the lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, allegedly devised "ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. [Jeffrey] Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark."