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Oscar Williams

News editor

Facebook is now saying nearly 150 million people were exposed to Russian posts about the US election

Facebook has revised up the number of people exposed to Russian agents’ inflammatory political posts before and after last year’s US presidential election.

Speaking in the latest in a series of congressional hearings about the role of social media in Russian meddling, the firm’s general counsel Colin Stretch today said “a little less than 150 million” people would have seen divisive content linked to Russian-backed accounts.

The new figure comes just a day after Stretch claimed that 126 million people may have been exposed to the posts. So why, in a word, has the figure ballooned overnight?

Instagram.

The statistic cited on Tuesday did not factor in users of the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app.

But Facebook has found that an additional 16 million people may have seen Russian content on the platform since October 2016, and a further four million beforehand.

Facebook’s line on this is that while the figures sound high, the posts were just a drop in the ocean of content viewed on its platforms in the lead up to the election.