Facebook says it has found $100,000 being spent on ads from June 2015 to May 2017 that was connected to 470 "inauthentic" accounts and pages that the company believes were “likely operated out of Russia.” Facebook has since closed down those accounts and pages under rules stating that accounts must be authentic.
In addition to shutting those accounts and pages, Facebook said:
“We also looked for ads that might have originated in Russia – even those with very weak signals of a connection and not associated with any known organized effort. This was a broad search, including, for instance, ads bought from accounts with US IP addresses but with the language set to Russian – even though they didn’t necessarily violate any policy or law. In this part of our review, we found approximately $50,000 in potentially politically related ad spending on roughly 2,200 ads.”
The social media giant shared its findings with US authorities investigating perceived Russian interference during the latest presidential elections in the country, even though the majority of the ads didn’t reference the elections, voting, or any candidate.
The ads, which were political in nature, focused on other issues such as LGBT matters, race issues, immigration, and gun rights – topics which Facebook has termed “divisive”. Of those ads, one-quarter were geographically targeted with more having run in 2015 than in 2016. The company says it is taking other steps in order to starve media outlets of ad revenue if they are deemed to propagate 'fake news'.