Facebook says Kremlin-linked group bought ads during 2016 presidential elections

18 Sep 2017


Facebook's revelation of a Russian group tied to the Kremlin having bought political ads on its platform during the 2016 elections has led to outrage.

Lawmakers are demanding details, and liberal groups, who claim the social network failed to do enough to counter fake news, have seized on the new disclosure.

Even Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, cited the ads when discussing her loss during a book tour.

"We now know that they were sewing discord during the election with phony groups on Facebook," Clinton told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.

"They were running anti-immigrant, anti-me, anti-Hillary Clinton demonstrations. They were putting out the fake news and negative stories untrue to really divide people."

Senator Mark Warner (Virginia), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called for more details about the ads bought from the Russian group.

According to commentators, Facebook is now in the sights of Sleeping Giants, an anonymous left-leaning activist group, which was able to pressure 2,600 advertisers to remove their ads from conservative website Breitbart.

It is now pressing Facebook to be more transparent about how Kremlin-linked groups used the platform.

Meanwhile, special counsel Robert Mueller and his team now have  the Russian-linked ads run on Facebook during the presidential election, after they obtained a search warrant for the information.

Facebook handed over Mueller and his team copies of ads as also related information it discovered on its site linked to a Russian troll farm, as also detailed information about the accounts that bought the ads and the way the ads targeted US Facebook users, CNN reported citing a source with knowledge of the matter.

According to commentators, the disclosure first reported by The Wall Street Journal may give Mueller's office a fuller picture of the people behind the ad buys and the ads' influence on voter sentiment during the 2016 election.

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