Facebook says fake accounts linked to Russian Federation bought ads during USA election

Posted September 07, 2017

In a statement Wednesday, Facebook said it discovered about $100,000 of its ad spending came from "inauthentic accounts" that were likely operated out of Russian Federation from June 2015 to May 2017.

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 revelations about ads on the social network can only add to the continuing political skirmishing in Washington over Russia's role in the election.

In a post written by chief security officer, Alex Stamos, the company said that the findings came after a review in the wake of questions over targeted political advertising on social media during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

Another $50,000 went to about 2,200 "potentially politically related" ads and might have been bought by Russians in potential violation of USA election law.

The social network said Wednesday it sold $100,000 worth of ads to inauthentic accounts likely linked to Russian Federation during the election.

The ad sales were found as part of an internal investigation, the Post reports.

Stamos explained that Facebook cast a wide net looking for accounts "with very weak signals of a connection and not associated with any known organized effort".

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The tech firm shut down these accounts and pages and has shared its findings with US authorities.

"Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia", Stamos said.

The company said it found no link to any presidential campaign. "Our data policy and federal law limit our ability to share user data and content, so we won't be releasing any ads".

The Internet Research Agency has received attention in the past for its activity.

The purchased adverts were linked to 470 accounts and pages that Facebook said were "inauthentic" and has now suspended.

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".

The revelation marks the first official confirmation that Russian Federation likely used Facebook in its efforts to sway USA election results.