Russia-linked groups bought $50000 in political Facebook ads

Facebook's investigation confirmed, via "digital footprints", that 3,300 ads from 470 "suspicious and likely fraudulent Facebook accounts and pages" were all linked to the same Russian company.

According to Facebook, the majority of the ads did not reference either of the two presidential candidates past year but were largely promoting divisive social issues, like immigration and gun control.

Most of the ads were run in 2015 and a quarter of them were targeted at a specific region, he added.

Facebook has confirmed a Washington Post report indicating that its ad sales team had sold advertising to a "shadowy Russian company" ahead of the 2016 Presidential election. Mr Zuckerberg dismissed the notion that "fake news" on Facebook swayed the election as "crazy".

Russian-linked pages bought thousands of ads on Facebook around the 2016 election, according to the social network.

"[We] 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".

Facebook on September 6 revealed the findings in a blog post by its chief security officer and said it was cooperating with federal investigators. It also was looking for ads bought from accounts with US internet protocol addresses but with the language setting dialed in to Russian. The Post reports that they are suspected of being connected to The Internet Research Agency, a Russian firm known to push pro-Kremlin propaganda. Over the past few months, Stamos said, the company has also taken action to block fake accounts tied to election meddling in France and Germany. "If Facebook has data on this, it needs to share it".

Senate Intel Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner has raised concerns that Facebook's ad targeting services may have boosted the prevalence of "fake news" on the platform.

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

Facebook has undertaken its own internal review of how it tracked and handled activity on its site during the presidential election, including the spread of fake news.

  • Tracy Klein