Facebook: Ads were sold to fake accounts linked to Russian Federation

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Facebook on Wednesday said that it found evidence of ad spending related to fake accounts "likely operated out of Russia" during the usa presidential election.

Russian disinformation operatives placed about 3,000 paid ads on Facebook over the past two years, according to findings of an investigation released Wednesday afternoon by the social network.

Special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional committees are investigating whether Russian Federation meddled in the election and if that meddling had any connection to President Trump's administration. The ads violated Facebook's policies, and the company said it had shut down the 470 pages and accounts associated with them. 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 Washington Post reports that Facebook told investigators it had $100,000 worth of ad sales to a Russian "troll farm" beginning in the summer of 2015.

"We have shared our findings with United States authorities investigating these issues, and we will continue to work with them as necessary".

"One question that has emerged is whether there's a connection between the Russian efforts and ads purchased on Facebook", Alex Stamos, the company's chief security officer, said in a statement. USA intelligence officials have determined the Kremlin used social media and fake news reports to interfere in the election.

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Most of the ads were run in 2015 and a quarter of them were targeted at a specific region, he added.

Facebook has been struggling with the issue of fake accounts, including organizations seeking to promote posts and generate traffic using bots.

Mr. Stamos said Facebook is cooperating with the investigations.

But while Facebook may be able to limit what people can and can't buy on its platform, it doesn't change the fact that social media has created a stage for anyone looking to spread false information online, with or without ads. It also hunted for other suspect ads and found $50,000 spent on 2,200 ads it says could have been politically related.

Moscow has denied meddling in the US election, and Mr. Trump has denied his campaign colluded with Russian Federation and has called the investigations a "witch hunt".

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

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