World News

Facebook Turns Over Details of Russian Campaign Ads to Mueller

Facebook Turns Over Details of Russian Campaign Ads to Mueller

Facebook said last week it found about US$100,000 (RM419,200) in ad spending connected to fake accounts probably run from Russian Federation. The records given to Mueller provide much more details than what the social media platform said last week to Congress.

Facebook didn't share the same information with Congress partly because of concerns of disrupting the special counsel's investigation and because of USA privacy laws.

Facebook informed Congress last week that it had identified 3,000 ads that ran between June 2015 and May 2017 that were linked to fake accounts.

Mueller has obtained a search warrant to investigate "inauthentic" Facebook accounts that are believed to have been operated by Russian-sponsored "troll farms" in and around the former Soviet Union.

The Senate Intelligence Committee also hasn't ruled out subpoenaing Facebook officials to publicly testify about how Russian Federation may have used the social media platform to influence the 2016 election, a person familiar with the investigation told the Journal.

The announcement came about two months after Facebook said it had no evidence of Russian ad purchases. The fact that Mueller obtained a warrant means he's already made a strong case for Russia's meddling with the election. The propaganda was traced back to almost 500 inauthentic accounts and pages, the company said.

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Now, Mueller's team has them as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Alex Stamos, Facebook's Chief Security Officer, wrote in a blog post that most of the ads didn't focus on one candidate or the other, but "appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum - touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights".

A Facebook spokesman told the newspaper that the company was continuing its probe and was cooperating with federal authorities.

The implications for Trump campaign staffers are not good, given that the targeted ads bought by foreign interests were geographically targeted to very specific regions where polling showed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was vulnerable.

"We know we have to stay vigilant to keep ahead of people who try to misuse our platform", said Stamos.

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