Russia Promoted Anti-Immigrant Events Using Fake Accounts On Facebook

Isaac Cain
September 13, 2017

Some of the ads bought by Russians on Facebook past year promoted events during the US presidential election campaign, Facebook Inc. said Tuesday, indicating that alleged meddling ahead of the 2016 election went beyond social media.

One of the events backed by the Russian-bought ads was an August 27, rally in the small Idaho town of Twin Falls where refugees are actually welcome. "We demand open and thorough investigation of all the cases regarding Muslim refugees!", it continued. The Facebook page had 133,000 followers when Facebook closed it last month, The Daily Beast reported. "All government officials, who are covering up for these criminals, should be fired!" One cached Facebook event which appears to be the same one flagged by the Beast had just 48 interested attendees, with only four marked as "went", a category that does not necessarily denote a physical presence at the rally. Facebook hasn't clarified how many of these events were created on its platform, and whether they've already taken place.

The organizer of the protest, Secured Borders, an avowedly pro-Trump, anti-Clinton and anti-immigration community, was reportedly managed through a St. Petersburgh-based media conglomerate owned by Russian businessman Yevgeny Pridozhin, a longtime friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"That somehow that was something they didn't think was relevant, which is again why I think this is the tip of the iceberg". "I question whether Facebook has put near the resources they need into getting us all the facts".

Amid reports that Russia-based organisations purchased ads on Facebook before the 2016 United States presidential poll, a Senate Committee is considering inviting Facebook and Twitter to testify on misinformation spread on their platforms.

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Warner said that he has been frustrated by Facebook's limited disclosures on Kremlin-connected groups using the platform to influence the US political, noting that the company has only revealed a single "troll farm" involved, the Internet Research Group. The Kremlin has dismissed the allegations and denied any involvement in the DNC hack.

Previously, Facebook disclosed that the Russian firm Internet Research Agency had spent $100,000 on Facebook ads but hadn't specified what these ads were about.

Facebook said it will continue working with US authorities as necessary.

The company said it has turned over information about the ads to the Justice Department and congressional committees which are investigating Russia's alleged interference in the election.

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