Facebook Gave Mueller Information On Russian Ads It Found On Platform

Pauline Gross
September 17, 2017

Special counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller obtained a search warrant that forced Facebook to hand over the ads it sold to a company known for pro-Kremlin propaganda, as well as information about them.

In addition, the company also found $50,000 in ad purchases linked to Russian accounts.

The social network provided copies of ads and explained how they were targeted and who bought them, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing an ongoing investigation. Facebook marketing is becoming increasingly important for election strategy, but social media ads are not legally required to provide the same transparency as ads that run on more traditional forums like television.

She noted that Mueller dis not sought a search warrant to target Facebook as a company instead he would be interested in exploring the specific accounts. The propaganda was traced back to almost 500 inauthentic accounts and pages, the company said.

The social networking site, based in Menlo Park, Calif., has not shared such detailed information with Congress, "in part because of concerns about disrupting the Mueller probe, and possibly running afoul of USA privacy laws", the Journal reported. The Senate Intelligence Committee is likely to ask Facebook representatives to testify publicly in the coming weeks, but even if it subpoenas Facebook, it is not likely to gain access to the information Mueller now has at his fingertips. The fact that Mueller obtained a warrant means he's already made a strong case for Russia's meddling with the election.

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President Donald Trump's team has denied working with Russian Federation to win the presidency, while Russian Federation has previously said it did not meddle with the USA election.

Alex Stamos, Facebook's Chief Security Officer, wrote in a blog post that most of the ads didn't focus on one candidate or the other, but "appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum - touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights".

Facebook said it is cooperating with investigators and declined to comment further.

Some were circulated before the election and mentioned candidates Clinton and Trump by name.

"We know we have to stay vigilant to keep ahead of people who try to misuse our platform", said Stamos.

Other reports by GizPress

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