Facebook Says Russia-Based Operation Bought Ads Targeting US Voters

Facebook Says Russia-Based Operation Bought Ads Targeting US Voters

Facebook said it sold ads to "inauthentic" accounts likely linked to Russian Federation.

In total, Facebook found about 3,000 suspicious ads, which generated $100,000 in revenue, that ran between June 2015 and May 2017.

According to the company's statement, the vast majority of the ads connected to Russian Federation did not directly reference the election, voting or specific candidates. Ars Technica loaded a Facebook ad-purchase order to buy $100,000 of advertising that targeted anyone interested in "the Second Amendment" or "illegal immigration", and it quoted a "potential reach" of 1.4 million Facebook users.

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.

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About $50,000 of the funds - about 2,200 ads- were potentially related to impacting US politics.

They looked to increase "disruptive social and political messages over the ideological range" on themes that included firearms, movement and gay rights, Mr Stamos composed. Approximately 3,300 ads had ties to Russian Federation.

Beyond the issue ads, Facebook said it uncovered another $50,000 in political advertising that might have a link to Russian Federation.

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

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"Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia", Alex Stamos, Facebook's chief security officer, wrote in a blog post.

Facebook said it was co-operating with a U.S. investigation into the matter. 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.

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".

Congress and special counsel Robert Mueller are in the process of investigating Russian interference in the USA election, including allegations that Moscow may have coordinated with Trump campaign officials.

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