Russian Agents Allegedly Bought Facebook Inc (FB) Ads To Influence US Election

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"In reviewing the ads buys, we have found approximately $100,000 in ad spending from June of 2015 to May of 2017 - associated with roughly 3,000 ads - that was connected to about 470 inauthentic accounts and Pages in violation of our policies", Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said in a statement.

Providing new evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Facebook disclosed on Wednesday that it had identified more than $100,000 worth of divisive ads on hot-button issues purchased by a shadowy Russian company linked to the Kremlin.

He said these are serious claims and that the company had been reviewing a range of activity on the platform to help understand what happened.

Facebook has divulged that it could have earned up to US$150 000 from Russian ads that targeted the 2016 United States election.

It goes on to accuse Russian Federation of being behind the "inauthentic accounts", stating that the analysis suggests the "accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russian Federation".

Facebook said it has shut down remaining active accounts and is looking at steps to avoid similar problems in the future.

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.

There have always been questions about Facebook ad effectiveness and issues of how businesses could get themselves in trouble over using ads badly. Roughly 25% of these ads were geo-targeted, which means the accounts were pushing these issues to specific groups of people in the U.S.

Facebook has also reported that few ads also mentioned the then Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. 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.

Facebook conducted a broad review of ads on its platform, looking for ad buys that might have even a loose connection to Russian Federation.

Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said in an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" on Wednesday that the information from Facebook backed up an existing finding that Russian Federation allegedly attempted to meddle in the 2016 election. In hunting for other suspect ads, Facebook turned up $50,000 spent on 2,200 ads it says could have been politically related. Let's not forget that Facebook political advertising was on target to pass $1 billion for the U.S. election.

Given the USA prohibition on foreign money being spent in elections, Facebook has a legal duty to act if it is aware of similar activity in the future, Fischer said.

Facebook has turned over the data to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is now running the investigation on the hacking.

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