Facebook sold 2016 election-related ads to "shadowy Russian company"

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The social media giant Facebook has said that around $100,000 (£76,500) worth of ad buys during the recently usa presidential election campaign came from "inauthentic accounts" that were linked and "likely run out of Russia".

Separately, Facebook also found another $50,000 in political ad spending - for about 2,200 ads - that were bought from accounts "that might have originated in Russia", Stamos wrote.

The vast majority of ads run by these accounts didn't specifically reference the U.S. presidential election, voting or a particular candidate. Facebook said that some of the ads linked to Russian accounts had targeted particular geographic areas, which may raise questions about whether anyone had helped direct such targeting.

Facebook's disclosure may be the first time a private entity has pointed to receiving Russian money related to US elections, said Brendan Fischer, a program director at the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington nonprofit that advocates for more transparency.

The acknowledgment by Facebook follows months of criticism that the social media company served as a platform for the spread of false information before the November election.

Another $50,000 went to about 2,200 "potentially politically related" ads and might have been bought by Russians in potential violation of US election law.

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As well as the politically-related posts, the company had investigated ads that focused on social messages.

The site said they had shared their findings with U.S. authorities.

Mr Stamos said that Facebook had also looked for adverts that may have originated in Russian Federation, even those with "very weak signals of a connection and not associated with any known organised effort".

The overall spending figure for the Russian-linked ads - at about $150,000 - is a relatively small amount compared to the overall digital ad buy made during the course of the 2016 campaign.

The ad sales were traced to a "troll farm" with a history of promoting pro-Russia propaganda, The Washington Post reported.

"Our analysis suggests these accounts and pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russian Federation".

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Given the USA prohibition on foreign money being spent in elections, Facebook has a legal duty to act if it is aware of similar activity in the future, Fischer said.

The Internet Research Agency has received attention in the past for its activity.

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 USA presidential election.

In its unclassified report in January, the US intelligence community concluded that the Internet Research Agency's "likely financier" is a "close Putin ally with ties to Russian intelligence".

Special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional committees are examining Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 election, and whether any Trump campaign officials coordinated with Russian sources.

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