Nearly two years before Russian dissemination of fake news played a role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Ukrainian government warned Facebook and U.S. government officials that Russia used "aggressive behavior" to spread disinformation on social media platforms.
Dmytro Shymkiv, the head of Ukraine's presidential administration, told the Financial Times: "We shared with them some of our concerns that the problem of fake news spreading and the influence of behavior is very worrying ... I think Facebook was warned about what might happen with respect to the situation that unfolded in the U.S. ... Their response was: 'We are an open platform, we allow everybody the possibility to communicate.'"
Richard Allan, Facebook's vice president of public policy for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, told FT that Russian disinformation campaigns in 2014 and 2015 "bore no resemblance" to their efforts to spread fake news in the 2016 U.S. election.
On Wednesday, Axios reported that the spread of fake news on Facebook's messaging properties, WhatsApp and Messenger, is becoming an increasingly large problem for the social media giant. While much of the fake news during the election was disseminated through Facebook's news feed, it is much harder to crack down on fake news on messaging platforms, which generally employ end-to-end encryption to protect the privacy of users' conversations.