Facebook finds fake 'divisive' Russian ads
Hundreds of fake Facebook accounts, probably run from Russia, spent about $100,000 (€83,855) on ads aimed at stirring up divisive issues such as gun control and race relations during the 2016 US presidential election, the social network said yesterday.
Although the number of ads is relatively small, the disclosure provides a more detailed peek into what investigators believe was a targeted effort by Russians to influence US politics during the campaign, this time through social media.
The 470 accounts appeared to come from a notorious "troll farm," a St. Petersburg-based organisation known for promoting pro-Russian government positions via fake accounts, according to two people familiar with the investigation. The people were granted anonymity because they weren't authorised to publicly discuss details of the investigation.
In all, the accounts purchased some 3,000 ads between June 2015 and May 2017. While they ads didn't specifically reference the election, a candidate or voting, they nevertheless allowed "divisive messages" to be amplified via the social media platform, the company's chief security officer, Alex Stamos, said.