Facebook: Russian group spent $100000 on ads during 2016 election

Posted September 07, 2017

Facebook said Wednesday that fake accounts and pages that likely have ties to Russian Federation spent $100,000 in divisive political ads from June 2015 to May 2017 before the US presidential election. "Facebook notes that the "vast majority" of the ads it analyzed didn't reference a candidate, voting or the 2016 election specifically; instead, they were meant to "[amplify] divisive social and political messages".

On Wednesday, Facebook spoke to Congress about the findings as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Mr Zuckerberg dismissed the notion that "fake news" on Facebook swayed the election as "crazy".

The social network said it also uncovered $50,000 more in ads clearly of a political nature that might have links to Russian Federation.

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Facebook teams then discovered 470 suspicious and likely fraudulent Facebook accounts and pages that it believes operated out of Russian Federation, had links to the company and were involved in promoting the ads.

Facebook found that these accounts had ties with one another and they "likely operated out of Russian Federation".

Stamos said Facebook has already shared its findings with US authorities, which have been investigating a wide range of active measures by Russian Federation to spread propaganda and disinformation, something counterintelligence experts describe as a form of "hybrid warfare".

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Facebook has been under the microscope for months to explain how its platform was exploited during the last presidential campaign. The entity was called the Internet Research Agency.

New policies include limits on news feeds that share stories with consistent clickbait headlines and blocks on pages that repeatedly share fake news stories to advertise.

In its unclassified report in January, the US intelligence community concluded that the Internet Research Agency's "likely financier" is a "close Putin ally with ties to Russian intelligence".

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Facebook's admission to congressional investigators comes amid the sprawling Russia probe being conducted by the Justice Department and both houses of Congress into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether members of President Donald Trump's campaign worked with Russian officials to help sway the election.