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 usa presidential election.
Facebook, the dominant social media network, said that numerous 3,000 ads promoted 470 "inauthentic" accounts and pages that it has now suspended.
A total of 470 fake accounts and pages ran roughly 3,000 ads during that period, Facebook's Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos wrote in a blog post.
The Washington Post reported that Facebook had disclosed the findings to congressional investigators on Wednesday.
In a research published earlier this year, Facebook detailed its attempts to thwart organized "information operations" that are increasingly used to sway political leanings through the spread of fake news and propaganda on its platform. "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". Some of those ads were bought using computers with US internet protocol addresses but set to the Russian language, though they were displayed to users in English. "Our data policy and federal law limit our ability to share user data and content, so we won't be releasing any ads".
Facebook said it was trying.
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Stamos said Facebook's probe "looked for ads that might have originated in Russian Federation - even those with very weak signals of a connection and not associated with any known organized effort".
"We know we have to stay vigilant to keep ahead of people who try to misuse our platform", he said. The Internet Research Agency is a group known for its pro-Kremlin online propaganda campaigns which US intelligence agencies believe is funded by a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin with connections to the Russian intelligence community.
Mr Stamos said Facebook had also discovered an additional $50,000 was spent on around 2,200 ads "that might have originated in Russia".
Facebook and other internet giants have been cracking down on "fake news" after being hit with criticism that rampant spread of bogus stories influenced the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.
Not all politically-related advertising by foreigners is illegal in America.