Friday, 22 September, 2017

Facebook says fake accounts linked to Russian Federation bought ads during U.S. election

Image stephen lam  Getty Images Image stephen lam Getty Images
Garry Little | 07 September, 2017, 01:28

An internal Facebook investigation has found it is "likely" Russian operatives spent $100,000 on ads with "divisive messages" between June 2015 and May 2017.

Through a broad search, Facebook found Russian Federation linked accounts bought approximately $50,000 in potentially politically related ad spending on roughly 2,200 ads.

Following its April post-mortem on its platform's role in the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook is out with some juicy new details.

Some of the 3,300 ads, which first appeared in the summer of 2015, named eventual nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton by name, the paper said.

The tech firm shut down these accounts and pages and have shared its findings with US authorities.

Alex Stamos, Facebook's chief security officer, made the revelation in a blog post Wednesday. According to the Post, Facebook has told U.S. congressional investigators that it sold the ads to a "Russian troll farm" that has a history of "pro-Kremlin" propaganda.

For its part, Facebook has been acting on the results of its internal audit examining the ways its platform may have been exploited in the 2016 USA election.

As well as the politically-related posts, the company had investigated ads that focused on social messages.

Mr. Stamos said Facebook is cooperating with the investigations.

The acknowledgment by Facebook follows months of criticism that the social media company served as a platform for the spread of false information before the November election.

A Facebook employee said Wednesday that there were unspecified connections between the divisive ads and a well-known Russian "troll factory" in St. Petersburg that publishes comments on social media.

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

Facebook said the "inauthentic" accounts that bought the ads had been suspended.

News of Facebook's discovery came on the same day Facebook was accused of inflating its advertising reach.

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