Facebook has said it found no evidence of Russia meddling in the 2016 referendum in Britain, where citizens voted to leave the European Union, Reuters reported.
Facebook sent its findings to Britain’s Electoral Commission in an email. It said Russian-based operatives placed three advertisements on Facebook ahead of the Brexit vote on June 23, 2016, spending just 97 cents. The ads focussed on issues of immigration.
In comparison, the same Russian agency had spent $100,000 (Rs 64 lakh) advertising on Facebook to influence the United States presidential election that year, the social media platform said, according to The New York Times. The report said British users viewed these ads around 200 times over four days in May 2016.
Facebook’s statement was in response to questions from some British lawmakers, who asked for the inquiry after reports alleging that Russian operatives interfered in the United States presidential election surfaced.
While Facebook did not say how it conducted its internal review, it said it studied if any profiles or pages linked to the Internet Research Agency had funded ads during the Brexit vote, Reuters reported. The agency is a Russian organisation that employs hundreds of people to push pro-Kremlin content on social media.
“We have determined that these accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency spent a small amount of money ($0.97) on advertisements that delivered to UK audiences during that time,” Facebook said.
Russia has denied interfering in both the Brexit and the United States elections.
British lawmakers criticised Facebook’s inquiry, The Guardian reported. Damian Collins, the chair of the House of Commons’ digital, culture, media and sport select committee, accused the company of not searching enough. Collins said the company’s response did not “answer the questions that I put to Mark Zuckerberg”, the report said.