Ronn TorossianRonn Torossian

It could end up being a time waster or simply a way to assuage idle curiosity, but Facebook is touting its new “troll tool” as a way for users to protect their social media accounts from being scammed.

The company recently the launched the tool that purportedly allows users to see if they liked or followed any accounts or posts from the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm with reported links to the Russian government. The idea behind the new tool is that it allows users to learn if they got e-conned by the group.

According to various unconfirmed media reports, the IRA intended to sow chaos in American politics during the 2016 election. Facebook says the tool, which is available through its help center, will assist users in identifying the sorts of posts and pages that may be coming from propaganda farms and troll centers.

It’s an interesting move for Facebook, which, along with Twitter, spent the last part of 2017 getting grilled by Congress over “social media-based interference” in American politics at the highest level. As a result, the social media giant was compelled to share more than 3,000 adverts purchased by certain accounts linked to the IRA.

Facebook also admitted that up to 10 million people may have viewed the ads, and that up to 150 million Americans may have seen content generated by the Internet Research Agency. The social media platform argues that many millions may not have any idea they were scammed by the propaganda pages.

What users are not able to learn using the tool — at least not yet — is how the content got to their page. Was it through a recommended Facebook ad, was it shared by a friend? This tool won’t tell them, and that’s likely what most people want to know most.

The idea here is culpability. If it was a friend who shared the bad information, the user can be more selective about what they view and share from that friend. And, if the ads or other content came directly from Facebook that puts the onus back on the social media platform to do a better job filtering advertising content.

And it’s this, really, that people are looking for and what Facebook is not yet delivering. Ad content is still all over the place on Facebook. People can block certain ads or certain advertisers, but chances are they will still see something similar based on their social media profile and the company’s algorithm. If they really want their users to feel more confident and scroll or click more freely, that’s what they need to worry about.


Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR firm.