Facebook Says ‘Insignificant’ Overlap Between Russia Ads, Trump
Facebook Inc. told a Senate panel that it has detected “only what appears to be insignificant overlap” between targeting of ads and content promoted by a pro-Kremlin Russia group and by the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.
The social-media company said it “does not believe it is in a position to substantiate or disprove allegations of possible collusion” between Russia and the Trump campaign, as part of a written response to questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee released Thursday evening by the panel. Facebook didn’t go into further detail, saying it was willing to schedule a meeting with Senate staff to discuss the matter.
The remarks go beyond what the company told Congress during public hearings on Nov. 1 as part of probes into Russian election meddling. At that time, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch said, “We have not seen overlap in the targeting — that was relatively rudimentary — used in the advertising that was disclosed, and any other advertiser on the site, including the Trump campaign.”
Facebook said it has no evidence that the Russian Internet Research Agency, which disseminated fake news and ads, targeted its efforts based on U.S. voter registration data.
Their targeting was “relatively rudimentary, targeting broad locations and interests,” the company said. Any revenue that Facebook made from ads run by the IRA was “immaterial,” it added, noting that it was contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Defending Digital Democracy Project.
Facebook also said that the IRA organized 129 real-world events, viewed by approximately 338,300 people, with 62,500 people saying they were planning to attend. Facebook said that in some cases, its algorithm did automatically recommend that people view, follow or join Russian-linked pages, because the company wasn’t aware that they were not legitimate.
Twitter and Google didn’t address the possibility of overlap between the Russian-backed IRA and the Trump campaign in their latest answers.
But Twitter did say it wasn’t aware of “any specific state-sponsored attempts to interfere in any American elections in 2017, including the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections.”
Twitter Busts ‘Russians-Did-It’ Narrative: Finds No Evidence Of Meddling In UK Brexit Vote
Just days after Twitter took it upon themselves to remind the public that the Russians were responsible for President Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral victory, a statement provided by Twitter’s head of public policy to the UK Parliament appears to be saying the exact opposite about suspected Russian interference in the Brexit vote.
Rather than insinuating that pro-leave twitter users were duped by Russian agents, the company’s head of public policy told Parliamentary investigators that it was unable to confirm links to Russian sources for thousands of “bots” that are part of the parliamentary investigation. Overall, Twitter examined 13,000 Brexit bots and found that only 1% could be conclusively linked to Russia, and that most of these bots have already been suspended.
Couple of new things on UK parliament's investigation into fake news/Russia/Brexit:
– Google, Facebook and Twitter to give live evidence in US on Feb 8.
– New letter from Twitter on 13,000 Bexit bots. 1% were Russian; most suspended now but no number for still existing pic.twitter.com/MXDcXfUYjd
— Matt Burgess (@mattburgess1) January 25, 2018
In its statement, Twitter said its findings echoed the results of a study conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute. Researchers from the institute concluded that there was little evidence linking Russia to the Brexit vote.
Finally, it appears the company has conclusively determined: The UK’s disruptive decision to leave the European Union was not the work of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Read the full OII report: