Facebook to investigate Russian meddling in Brexit vote


Facebook agreed on Wednesday to investigate the spread of Russian misinformation ahead of Britain's 2016 European Union referendum, commonly referred to as Brexit.

The social network will now look for "other similar clusters engaged in coordinated activity around the Brexit referendum that was not identified previously".

British lawmakers probing possible Russian interference in the Brexit referendum revealed on Wednesday (Jan 17) that Facebook had agreed to broaden its own investigation into fake news in the run-up to the vote, after facing criticism of the social media platform's initial efforts.

In evidence handed over to the Electoral Commission, Facebook said no more than 200 people were reached by the ads which were paid for by accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency.

Facebook's head of policy, Simon Milner, said in a letter that the company would look for "clusters engaged in coordinated activity around the Brexit referendum" originating in Russian Federation.

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Facebook will conduct "detailed analysis of historic data" expected to take several weeks to complete, Mr. Wilner wrote the lawmaker.

In its Brexit report, Facebook also only looked at known Russian trollfarm the Internet Research Agency pages or account profiles - which it had previously identified in its United States election disinformation probe.

Facebook's new search in Britain will require the company's security experts to go back and analyze historical data. "We are committed to making all reasonable efforts to establish whether or not there was coordinated activity similar to that which we found in the USA and will report back to you as soon as the work has been completed", his letter said.

Facebook is not the only social media platform to face allegations of becoming an instrument of influence for the Kremlin's interference campaigns in the US, Britain, Germany, and France.

Collins added in his statement: "I look forward to seeing the results of this investigation, and I'm sure we will want to question Facebook about this when we know the outcome".