A Facebook employee said Wednesday that there were unspecified connections between the divisive ads and a renowned Russian “troll factory” in St. Petersburg that publishes comments on social networking.
Facebook, the dominant social media system, stated that several of the ads promoted 470 “inauthentic” pages and accounts that it has now suspended. The ads spread polarizing views on topics including immigration, race and gay rights, instead of backing a particular candidate, it said.
Reporting by Joseph Menn reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Leslie Adler
Even if no laws have been violated, afoul of Facebook requirements ran for authenticity.
As recently it told journalists that it had not found any evidence to date of Russian operatives purchasing election-related ads.
Facebook announced the findings at a blog post by its chief security officer, Alex Stamos, and stated that it was cooperating with federal inquiries into influence operations throughout the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) said on Wednesday it had found that an influence operation likely based in Russia spent $100,000 on ads promoting divisive social and political communications at a two-year-period through May.
But the findings buttress U.S. intelligence agency decisions that Russia was actively involved in forming the election.
Facebook did not publish the names of any of those suspended pages, but a number of them included such words as “refugee” and “patriot.”
Beyond the issue ads, Facebook said it discovered $50,000 more in political advertising which may have a link to Russia. Some of those ads were bought with the language, even though they were displayed to users in English.
More than $1 billion was spent on electronic ads during the 2016 effort, 10,000 times the amount identified by the security group of Facebook.
The company said it found no link to any campaign. Three-fourths of the ads were national in scope, and the rest did not appear to reflect targeting of swing-states that are political as voting neared.