Facebook has discovered only three adverts that were posted by Russian accounts in its attempt to investigate possible meddling by the country in the Brexit vote of last year.
The Electoral Commission had requested the social media giant to investigate into any interference with the referendum in 2016. In a letter to the commission, Facebook said that the trio of advertisements had cost a total of less than $1 (75p) to post and had been seen by only a maximum of 200 viewers that are based in the United Kingdom over a period of four days.
Facebook added that the three adverts were in fact possibly aimed at viewers in the United States, and concerned immigration rather than the European Union referendum directly.
In the letter, a spokesperson from Facebook wrote: “We strongly support the Commission’s efforts to regulate and enforce political campaign finance rules in the United Kingdom, and we take the Commission’s request very seriously.”
This follows the revelation that adverts that were funded by Russia that were placed on Facebook attempting to influence the presidential election in the United States last year could have reached a maximum of 126m Americans, according to a testimony that was prepared by the company for the Senate judiciary committee in October.
Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, had denied trying to influence either vote, even though the money for the adverts was discovered to have come from the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Kremlin-sponsored outfit.
Earlier this year, the US Office of the National Director of Intelligence released a report which concluded: “Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.”
This prompted Facebook to undertake additional analysis, during which it discovered that around 470 accounts and pages run by accounts of the IRA which spent about $100,000 running over 3,000 ads between June 2015 and May 2017.
A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission stated: “Facebook, Google and Twitter have responded to us. We welcome their cooperation.
“There is further work to be done with these companies in response to our request for details of campaign activity on their platforms funded from outside the UK. Following those discussions, we will say more about our conclusions.”