Facebook reveals alleged Russia-funded political ad campaign in US

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook acknowledged in a blog post on Wednesday that 470 accounts "affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia" purchased around 3,000 ads between June 2015 and May 2017. Instead, they focused on "amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum".

As the WP points out, this revelation follows a Time report from May claiming that United States intelligence officials had found proof of politically targeted, Kremlin-affiliated Facebook ad buys during the 2016 Presidential election. These are serious claims and we've been reviewing a range of activity on our platform to help understand what happened.

In their meetings with congressional staff, Facebook officials gave specific examples of geographically targeted ads, Warner said. It said that thousands of ads are bought from Facebook from accounts that are operated out of Russian Federation. According to Reuters, the ads were linked to 470 "inauthentic" accounts and pages that have since been suspended.

The social network released a statement on Wednesday, addressing claims that Russian Federation had interfered in the USA presidential election.

Facebook has since shared their findings with US authorities and is working with them on the investigation.

The news comes the same day as Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg waded even more into the political waters by hosting a Facebook Live session in which he interviewed three Dreamers, in an effort to condemn President Trump's decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA.

Facebook has turned over its data on ads bought by a Russian company during the 2016 election to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, reports on Wednesday said.

The ads were traced to a Russian "troll farm", a Facebook official said on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Another $50,000 (around Rs 32 lakh) was spent on 2,200 "potentially politically related" ads, likely by Russians, Facebook said.

Facebook reports to have also uncovered 2,200 potentially politically related ads that might have originated in Russian Federation but are "not associated with any known organized effort". Both committees are hunting for evidence of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including potential collusion between Moscow and Donald Trump's campaign. The New York Times reports that Facebook disclosed to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees that ads were purchased by fake accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, a notorious source of "troll" accounts.

"We have never heard about this and know nothing about this".

And Facebook plays an outsized role in delivering news to Americans - 67 percent of American adults use the site, and 44 percent of USA adults get news on the social network, according to a Pew Research Center survey from 2016.

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