Facebook Says Russia-Based Operation Bought Ads Targeting US Voters

Posted September 07, 2017

Stamos said Facebook began its review to determine "whether there's a connection between the Russian efforts (to influence the U.S. election) and ads purchased on Facebook".

The company said $100,000 (£77,000) was spent on about 3,000 ads over a two-year period, ending in May 2017.

Facebook announced the findings in a blog post by its chief security officer, Alex Stamos, and said that it was co-operating with federal inquiries into influence operations during the 2016 US presidential election.

The tech firm shut down these accounts and pages and has shared its findings with US authorities. Mr Zuckerberg dismissed the notion that "fake news" on Facebook swayed the election as "crazy".

Stamos spelled out just what was in the ads, saying that the majority didn't specifically reference the presidential election, voting, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Some of those ads were bought using computers with USA internet protocol addresses but set to the Russian language, though they were displayed to users in English. In a follow-up story by the Washington Post, Facebook admitted that "there is evidence that some of the accounts are linked to a troll farm in St. Petersburg, referred to as the Internet Research Agency, though we have no way to independently confirm".

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"Our data policy and federal law limit our ability to share user data and content, so we won't be releasing any ads", the official said.

Facebook said it was cooperating with inquiries by Congress into whether Russian Federation sought to influence the election.

Facebook said it was trying.

"We know we have to stay vigilant to keep ahead of people who try to misuse our platform", Stamos wrote.

The company said it found no link to any presidential campaign.

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Stamos said the review also looked at ads that may have originated in Russian Federation though with weaker links, this came up with around $50,000 (£38,000) from 2,200 ads.

But the findings buttress US intelligence agency conclusions that Russian Federation was actively involved in shaping the election.

The prevailing informal community said that a considerable lot of the advertisements advanced 470 "inauthentic" records and pages that it has now suspended and the promotions spread polarizing sees on points including migration, race and gay rights, rather than sponsorship a specific political competitor.

Not all politically-related advertising by foreigners is illegal in America.

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