Facebook removed thousands of posts shared during the 2016 election by accounts linked to Russia after a Columbia University social-media researcher, Jonathan Albright, used the company’s data-analytics tool to examine the reach of the Russian accounts. Albright, who discovered the content had reached a far broader audience than Facebook had initially acknowledged, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that the data had allowed him “to at least reconstruct some of the pieces of the puzzle” of Russia’s election interference. “Not everything, but it allowed us to make sense of some of this thing,” he said.
Facebook confirmed that the posts had been removed, but said it was because the company had fixed a glitch in the analytics tool — called CrowdTangle — that Albright had used.
“We identified and fixed a bug in CrowdTangle that allowed users to see cached information from inactive Facebook Pages,” said Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman.
Facebook’s decision to remove the posts from public view raised questions about whether the company could be held liable for suppressing potential evidence, given its role in the wide-ranging investigation of Russia’s election interference.