There have been a lot of questions since the 2016 US election about Russian interference in the electoral process. In April Facebook published a white paper that outlined the understanding of organised attempts to misuse the social platform to influence Americans voting decision. There was also the question whether there’s a connection between the Russian efforts and ads purchased on Facebook.
After reviewing the ads buys, it was found approximately US$100,000 in ad spending from June of 2015 to May of 2017 — associated with roughly 3,000 ads — that was connected to about 470 inauthentic accounts and Pages violated policies. Analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia.
As Facebook does not allow inauthentic accounts as a result, the accounts and pages that were identified and still active has been shut. Among the findings included that the vast majority of ads run by these accounts didn’t specifically reference the US presidential election, voting or a particular candidate and about one-quarter of these ads were geographically targeted, and of those, more ran in 2015 than 2016.
In the latest review, search for ads that might have originated in Russia — even those with very weak signals of a connection and not associated with any known organized effort. This was a broad search, including, ads bought from accounts with US IP addresses but with the language set to Russian — even though they didn’t necessarily violate any policy or law. In this part the review found approximately US$50,000 in potentially politically related ad spending on roughly 2,200 ads.
Facebook has shared these findings with US authorities investigating these issues.