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Facebook cancels Russian-funded polarising US ads around gay rights

Joseph McCormick September 6, 2017

Facebook has said it has identified some $100,000 of ads likely funded from Russia displayed in the US.

The ads offered polarising positions on social issues like gay rights, immigration and race, and ran for two years ending in May.

The site said it had identified 470 “inauthentic” accounts which spread the political messages and suspended them.

It said the ads were unlikely to have affected swing-state results during the US election.

The announcement was made by Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos on Wednesday.

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He said the site was cooperating with federal enquiries into external influences during last year’s presidential election.

It said the ads it found did not back a particular candidate and that there was no link to any presidential campaign.

Three-quarters of the ads were displayed US-wide.

Despite identifying keywords like “patriot” and “refugee”, the site did not identify the names of the suspended pages.

Whether unlawful or not, the fake accounts ran contrary to Facebook’s authenticity requirements.

Over a billion US dollars were spent on digital political ads during last year’s presidential election.

Despite apparently not influencing swing-state results, this latest revelation adds to intelligence findings that Russia had been involved in the election results.

Facebook had previously said it was cracking down on fake “amplifier” accounts which spread propaganda.

The social network had said it was cracking down on the fake accounts.

It also said that Wednesday’s findings were also linked to a “troll factory” run out of St Petersburg which posts comments on social media.

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