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How Russia tried to use $100,000 for Fake News promotion During U.S Election

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Facebook announced on Wednesday that it had found $100,000 worth of advert buys from accounts likely operated out of Russia, which may have aided in the disinformation campaign during the 2016 election cycle.
The company said the advertisements promoted divisive political messaging on subjects like gay marriage, immigration, race and gun rights, instead of specifically targeting candidates.
The news comes the same day as Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg waded even more into the political waters by hosting a Facebook Live session in which he interviewed three Dreamers, in an effort to condemn President Trump’s decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA.
“To offer the American dream to people and then take it away and punish them for trusting the government is one of the most troubling things I’ve seen in a long time in our country,” Zuckerberg said.
Zuckerberg had previously been one of the business leaders to call on Trump to keep DACA in place, which he didn’t. Now Zuckerberg and other leaders will have to turn to Congress for a fix, while lawmakers may also be looking to Facebook for answers on Russian meddling.
On Wednesday, the dominant social media network said that the $100,000 the company received bought 3,000 Facebook ads for 470 inauthentic accounts and pages.
“Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia,” the company said in a blog post.
The post was written by its chief security officer and said that it was cooperating with federal inquiries into influence operations during the presidential election.
“The accounts or pages that were found had violated Facebook policies and were shut down,” according to Facebook chief security officer, Alex Stamos.
“Our analysis suggests these accounts and pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia,” Stamos said in a blog post.
Most of the ads run by the accounts didn’t directly reference the US presidential election, voting, or particular candidates but instead appeared focused on “amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum,” according to Stamos.
Three-fourths of the ads were national in scope, and the rest did not appear to reflect targeting of political swing-states as voting neared.
Facebook did not print the names of any of the suspended pages, but some of them included such words as ‘refugee’ and ‘patriot.’
Topics touched on included race issues, gay rights matters, gun rights and immigration, Facebook said. The latest review expanded on a report released in April by Facebook on the use of ‘fake news’ and ‘false amplification’ on the social network aimed at manipulating political discussion.
Stamos said Facebook began its review to determine ‘whether there’s a connection between the Russian efforts (to influence the US election) and ads purchased on Facebook.
A Facebook employee said Wednesday that there were unspecified connections between the divisive ads and a well-known Russian ‘troll factory’ in St. Petersburg that publishes comments on social media.
Facebook also reported finding that approximately $50,000 in potentially politically related ad spending on some 2,200 ads ‘from accounts with US IP addresses but with the language set to Russian,’ which did not appear to violate any policy or law.
In comparison, a report by ad market specialty firm Borrell Associates indicated that more than $1.4 billion was spent on online advertising for spending on local, state and national political campaigns during the 2016 election cycle in the US.
Facebook and other internet giants have been cracking down on ‘fake news’ after being hit with criticism that rampant spread of bogus stories influenced the outcome of the US presidential election.
Facebook said it is sharing its findings with US authorities.

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