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Facebook Meets the Danger of Automation: Russian Political Ads

08 September 2017

Stamos also says that most of the ads weren't necessarily for or against any particular candidate, but "rather, the ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum".

It said it had discovered that the $100,000 had been used to buy roughly 3,000 ads connected to 470 accounts all "likely" associated with each other and operated out of Russian Federation.

Facebook announced the findings in a blog post by its chief security officer Alex Stamos after a review of ad buys.

Those ads were targeted, according to an unnamed Facebook official, at users who'd "expressed interest" in politically charged topics such as African-American social issues, the Second Amendment, immigration, and the LGBT community. It said that thousands of ads are bought from Facebook from accounts that are operated out of Russian Federation.

Robert Mueller is the special counsel that was entrusted with conducting investigations into the alleged Russian interference that impacted the outcome in the last year's U.S presidential election.

Warner said he wants the committee to meet with representatives of Facebook, Twitter, Google and other online giants to see what can be done to prevent social media sites from being used as tools by foreign adversaries to meddle in future USA elections.

Facebook came under fire in November for allowing what many considered false news to run rampant on the popular platform-a criticism CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed as being "a pretty insane idea".

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It's worth noting that Facebook told CNN's Tom LoBianco in July that is saw no evidence of Russian ads during the election, though CNN's Marshall Cohen says that it could have discovered the Russian influence in following weeks.

Facebook reports to have also uncovered 2,200 potentially politically related ads that might have originated in Russian Federation but are "not associated with any known organized effort".

Although Facebook did not give examples of the ads, issue-oriented ads may not violate the Federal Election Campaign Act, which forbids foreign nationals from funding election-related activities.

It also briefed members of the Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees on Wednesday about the suspected Russian advertising, Reuters reported, citing a congressional source familiar with the matter. Leonnig, Hamburger and Helderman wrote that "the report from Facebook that a Russian firm was able to target political messages is likely to fuel pointed questions from investigators about whether the Russians received guidance from people in the United States". There were over 3,000 adverts working on this to influence people of the U.S. during the elections. In that review, the company found US$50,000 (RM210,850) spent on 2,200 ads that were potentially political. There have been claims that there was indeed a collusion between Moscow and the heated up campaign of President Donald Trump.

Facebook has turned over the data to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is now running the investigation on the hacking.

Facebook has been struggling to control fake news and advertising over the past few years, and has also received scrutiny for advertising audience numbers that seem to conflict with U.S. Census Bureau data.

Facebook Meets the Danger of Automation: Russian Political Ads