Facebook says it sold political ads to Russian company during 2016 election

Facebook says 'likely' Russian operation spent money on ads with divisive political messages

Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it had found that an influence operation likely based in Russian Federation spent $100,000 on thousands of ads promoting divisive social and political messages in a two-year-period through May.

Facebook admitted to congressional investigators Wednesday that it sold political ads to a Russian firm during the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, according to The Washington Post.

The ads began in the summer of 2015 and lasted to May 2017.

In response to these figures, said: "Our analysis suggests these accounts and pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russian Federation".

Beyond the issue ads, Facebook said it uncovered another $50,000 in political advertising that might have a link to Russian Federation.

In a research published earlier this year, Facebook detailed its attempts to thwart organized "information operations" that are increasingly used to sway political leanings through the spread of fake news and propaganda on its platform.

Stamos said a "majority" of the ads didn't specifically reference the presidential election or a particular candidate but did try to amplify divisive issues.

Facebook said it is sharing its findings with U.S. authorities.

She declined to comment on the Facebook ads, saying she could not comment on subjects that could come before the agency. While the amount of spending on the ads was nominal at best, the fact that it even occurred is likely to reinforce concerns expressed by some Democrats that Russian Federation may have used Facebook to promote narratives that flattered Trump and bashed Clinton in key Rust Belt swing states that helped the real estate mogul take the White House. Facebook did not say Mr Putin in a blog entry clarifying the advertisement purchases. The Internet Research Agency is a group known for its pro-Kremlin online propaganda campaigns which US intelligence agencies believe is funded by a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin with connections to the Russian intelligence community.

A Russian company that created fake accounts and pages purchased $100,000 worth of advertising during the U.S. election past year, the company said.

But the findings buttress US intelligence agency conclusions that Russian Federation was actively involved in shaping the election.

Not all politically-related advertising by foreigners is illegal in America.

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