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Facebook broadens scope of investigation into possible Russian Brexit propaganda

Facebook broadens scope of investigation into Russian Brexit campaigning

Facebook is allocating additional resources to an investigation into whether the UK’s vote to leave the European Union might have been influenced by Russian propaganda propagated by the social network.

The decision follows mounting pressure from the digital, culture, media and sport committee for Facebook to do more to establish whether any undue influence occurred amid widespread criticism that an initial inquiry was of only limited scope.

That found that accounts connected with Russia’s notorious Internet Research Agency had spent a paltry $0.97 on a handful of adverts in advance of the referendum which appeared in just 200 News Feeds.

Now Facebook will examine whether there were any clusters of accounts operating which might have been employed as part of a covert operation to subvert the opinions of members.

Outlining the increased scope of the investigation Facebook policy director Simon Milner wrote that the firm would quickly establish whether ‘there was coordinated activity similar to that which was found in the US’ – referring to malign Russian influence of the 2016 presidential election.

In September last year Facebook revealed that 'inauthentic' Russian accounts had spent $100k on ads connected with the 2016 US presidential race.

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