Facebook widens probe into Russian influence on Brexit vote

Frederick Owens
January 19, 2018

Addressing the parliamentary committee on digital culture and media, Milner said Facebook will revisit historical data and review allegations of Russian meddling. The investigation, however, was limited to a cluster of Russian accounts that had already been identified following probes into activity connected with the United States presidential campaign. "They are best placed to investigate activity on their platform".

Simon Milner, a policy director at Facebook, said work would be carried out promptly to see if "there was coordinated activity similar to that which was found in the U.S".

The prominent Conservative MP has also previously criticised Twitter over its response to his committee's inquiry.

The U.K. government has said it has found no evidence that Russian Federation successfully interfered in its democratic processes, including the Brexit vote, and Russian Federation denies any allegations. While Twitter claimed Russian broadcasters had spent around $1,000 to run six Brexit-related ads on its platform.

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The UK Electoral Commission had asked the company to look at accounts identified as part of Russia's "Internet Research Agency" of trolls and propagandists, which interfered in the USA presidential election.

The letter came after some British lawmakers criticized Facebook, saying the firm had done only a limited search for evidence that Russians manipulated the social media network and interfered with the Brexit referendum debate, Reuters noted.

"I$3 n limiting their investigation to just the Internet Research Agency, Facebook missed that it is only one troll farm which "has existed within a larger disinformation ecosystem in St. Petersburg, " including Glavset, an alleged successor of the Internet Research Agency, and the Federal News Agency, a reported propaganda "media farm, " according to Russian investigative journalists", the report authors write.

"I look forward to seeing the results of this investigation, and I'm sure we will want to question Facebook about this when we know the outcome", said Mr Collins.

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