Facebook is to expand its investigation into whether Russian spies interfered in the Brexit vote – after previously claiming that Russian agents spent a mere 73p on adverts.
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 Russia.
Previously Facebook claimed that a mere 73p was spent by the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-linked group known to have bought large volumes of adverts during the American election.
But Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, criticised Facebook for doing ‘no work’ on its initial investigation.
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Mr Milner said Facebook believed those accounts, identified as part of Russia’s ‘Internet Research Agency’ of trolls and propagandists, ‘seemed to be the most likely area’ to find evidence of meddling in the UK but added that the company would now look deeper into its records.
‘It is right that companies like Facebook should initiate their own research into issues like this where there is such clear public concern, and not just act on intelligence that has been passed to them,’ Mr Collins, who leads the committee’s fake news inquiry, said in a statement.
‘They are best placed to investigate activity on their platform.’
Facebook said security experts would begin their investigation ‘promptly’ but may take several weeks to produce results.