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US elections: Facebook sold political ads to Russian company

Thursday, September 7th, 2017 | Gadgets

The social network Facebook has found evidence that about 3,000 political ads have been switched over the past years by a network of fake accounts with a Russian background. In reviewing ad sales, it was noted that between June 2015 and May 2017 approximately $ 100,000 had been spent on advertisements associated with 470 fake accounts and sites, the company said in a blog post. According to an analysis, the accounts were linked and probably controlled from Russia.

According to a Washington Post report, only a few advertisements mentioned the names of the presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Most advertisers were concerned with controversial issues such as arms possession, homosexuals or immigration, said security chief Alex Stamos.
In a further step, Facebook also investigated ads that had a less organized relationship with Russia. This included cases where a US IP address had been used to display advertisements in Russian. In the process, Facebook found 2,200 ads with political relevance, which had been distributed for $ 50,000.
How many people have been reached through the ads is unclear. However, in the US and Canada, the company alone generated sales of $ 3.6 billion in the third quarter of 2016, so it was unlikely that a large campaign could be run at $ 100,000. According to Ars Technica, with a budget of $ 100,000, approximately 1.4 million Facebook users are currently interested in the right to arms possession and illegal immigration.

Over the past few months, the social network has made further efforts to reduce the impact of counterfeit accounts and fake news. Thus, before the Bundestag election in Germany, the company deleted tens of thousands of spammers accounts. In addition, site operators who have repeatedly shared content that has already been questioned on Facebook may no longer display advertisements in the social network.


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