Russia-linked Facebook accounts stoked U.S. divisions

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

Representatives of Facebook told congressional investigators Wednesday that it has discovered it sold ads during the usa presidential election to a shadowy Russian company seeking to target voters, according to several people familiar with the company's findings.

The news was announced in a blog post by Facebook's chief security officer Alex Stamos, who said: "There have been a lot of questions since the 2016 U.S. election about Russian interference in the electoral process".

Separately, Facebook also found another $50,000 in political ad spending - for about 2,200 ads - that were bought from accounts "that might have originated in Russia", Stamos wrote.

As per the post by Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos, the posts were more centered around sowing disunity than on advancing a specific hopeful.

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". Most of the political ads weren't specifically referencing the presidential election but were instead focused on pushing divisive social and political messages such as race issues and gun rights.

The tech firm also broadly searched for ads that might have ties to Russian Federation. The Washington Post reported that Facebook traced the fake accounts to a Russian "troll farm" that has a history of promoting Russian propaganda.

Facebook has been under the microscope for months to explain how its platform was exploited during the last presidential campaign.


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

She declined to comment on the Facebook ads, saying she could not comment on subjects that could come before the agency. Approximately 3,300 ads had ties to Russian Federation.

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

Facebook said it was trying.

"It is unlawful for foreign nationals to be spending money in connection with any federal, state or local election, directly or indirectly", Weintraub said in a phone interview.

The advertisements directed users towards around 470 accounts that spread false information or were otherwise in breach of Facebook's terms and conditions, the site said.

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

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