Facebook on Wednesday said an operation, likely based in Russia, spent $100,000 (around Rs 64 lakh) on advertisements promoting divisive messages during the 2016 United States Presidential elections on the social media platform. The company said 3,000 ads and 470 “inauthentic” accounts and pages spread polarising views on topics including immigration, race and gay rights from June 2015 to May 2017.
Another $50,000 (around Rs 32 lakh) was spent on 2,200 “potentially politically related” ads, likely by Russians, Facebook said. The findings buttress the US intelligence community’s conclusions in January that Russia was actively involved in shaping the election that led to President Donald Trump’s victory.
Facebook announced the findings in a blog post by its Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos, and said it was cooperating with federal inquiries. The social media giant briefed members of the Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees on Wednesday about the suspected Russian-linked advertising. The two committees are conducting investigations into alleged interference in the 2016 US election, including potential collusion between Trump’s election campaign and Moscow.
Facebook also gave its findings to Robert Mueller, the special counsel in charge of investigating the alleged interference. Mueller’s office declined to comment.
Facebook said the 470 accounts associated with the ads ran afoul of the social network’s requirements for authenticity and have since been suspended.