News Worms
News Worms

Facebook says it sold ads to Russian 'troll farm' during 2016 campaign

Facebook says it sold ads to Russian 'troll farm' during 2016 campaign

Facebook teams then discovered 470 suspicious and likely fraudulent Facebook accounts and pages that it believes operated out of Russian Federation, had links to the company and were involved in promoting the ads.

Stamos said Facebook began its review to determine "whether there's a connection between the Russian efforts (to influence the United States election) and ads purchased on Facebook".

The social network discovered roughly $100,000 in ad buys between June 2015 and May 2017 "associated with roughly 3,000 ads" and connected to almost 500 affiliated fake accounts.

The spending spanned from June 2015 to May 2017, Facebook said.

Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos said in a statement posted on Wednesday that the Menlo Park, Calif. -based company has shut down the accounts and pages identified.

Most of the political ads that Facebook discovered didn't reference the USA presidential election, voting or a specific candidate.

Facebook has told investigators that it discovered thousands of political ads published on its platform over the past two years were linked to fake accounts based in Russian Federation. But the ads "appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum", Stamos wrote, saying that the ads keyed on topics such as LGBT matters, race issues and immigration or gun rights.

The ads are part of a new kind of attack that Facebook calls "information operations", a web of nefarious and insidious activities that extends far beyond "fake news". The ads often mentioned particular political issues, like LGBT rights or gun control, but rarely mentioned a specific political candidate or the U.S. presidential election.

A Facebook employee said Wednesday that there were unspecified connections between the divisive ads and a well-known Russian "troll factory" in St. Petersburg that publishes comments on social media.

For its part, Facebook has been acting on the results of its internal audit examining the ways its platform may have been exploited in the 2016 US election.

"Our data policy and federal law limit our ability to share user data and content, so we won't be releasing any ads", the official said.

Mr Stamos said Facebook had also discovered an additional $50,000 was spent on around 2,200 ads "that might have originated in Russia".

Earlier this year, Facebook announced technology improvements to detect fake accounts and more recently announced it would no longer allow Facebook pages to advertise if they have a pattern of sharing false news stories.


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