Pinterest helped unwittingly share political posts from Russian operatives, the company acknowledges.


James Martin/CNET

Pinterest, the social media site popular for sharing recipes, photos of clothes and inspirational quotes, also helped share Russia-linked political posts during the 2016 campaign.

The visual bookmarking site became a repository for political posts created by Russians operatives seeking to influence public opinion and promote divisiveness in the US, the company acknowledged Wednesday. The Russian operatives didn’t post directly to Pinterest, but their messages found their way to the site after Pinterest users saved messages on Facebook and Twitter to their boards.

“We believe the fake Facebook content was so sophisticated that it tricked real Americans into saving it to Pinterest,” a Pinterest spokesperson said in a statement. “We’ve removed the content brought to our attention and continue to investigate.”  

Pinterest joins a growing list of Silicon Valley companies that were unwittingly tapped to assist in Moscow’s disinformation campaign, including Facebook, Google and Twitter. The abundance of fake news on the internet in the lead-up to President Donald Trump‘s victory last year has become a hot-button issue, with many suggesting fake news shared on the social networks helped Trump win.

Facebook said last month that it identified about 500 “inauthentic accounts” that bought $100,000 worth of ads that targeted highly politicized social issues such as immigration, guns, and LGBT rights. Facebook has sent records of the ads to government investigators looking into Russia’s alleged meddling in last year’s presidential election.

Facebook isn’t alone. Twitter told congressional investigators last month that it had discovered 201 accounts that appear to be tied to the same Russian accounts that purchased ads on Facebook. Russian operatives also spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on YouTube, Gmail and Google search, Google revealed earlier this month.

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