Facebook Gave Mueller More Details on Russia Than Congress

17 September, 2017, 01:25 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • A filepic of Mueller at the US Capitol in Washington DC. Facebook provided copies of ads and explained how they were targeted and who bought them said a source. — AFP

Facebook informed Congress last week that it had identified 3,000 ads that ran between June 2015 and May 2017 that were linked to fake accounts.

There's more to the $100,000 in ads that Facebook sold to a Russian propaganda company.

"Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia", Facebook said last week.

Mueller has obtained a search warrant to investigate "inauthentic" Facebook accounts that are believed to have been operated by Russian-sponsored "troll farms" in and around the former Soviet Union.

Facebook did not give the same information to Congress because it didn't want to disrupt Mueller's investigation or violate US privacy laws, according to the report. Mark Warner, D-Va., who's on the Senate Intelligence Committee, suggested the committee may call Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies in for more information.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti also focused on the warrant in a series of tweets, arguing that its presence meant that Mueller was "close to charging specific foreign people with a crime", and that if Trump associates were part of the planning behind it, they could face serious charges as well.

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The disclosure, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, may give Mueller's office a fuller picture of who was behind the ad buys and how the ads may have influenced voter sentiment during the 2016 election. "To justify forcing FB to give up the info".

Google, which said last week it had seen no evidence of a Russian ad campaign on its platforms during last year's USA election, earlier this year offered to defend election organizers and civic groups against cyber attacks free of charge.

"This is big news", said former Federal Bureau of Investigation counterintelligence agent Asha Rangappa, "and potentially bad news for the Russian election interference 'deniers'".

The implications for Trump campaign staffers are not good, given that the targeted ads bought by foreign interests were geographically targeted to very specific regions where polling showed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was vulnerable. The ads were targeted at American Facebook users and covered issues like gun rights and immigration.

"We continue to work with the appropriate investigative authorities", Facebook said in a statement to CNN.

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