A group of MPs has commanded that Facebook expose any evidence that it holds that Russia attempted to influence recent major votes in the United Kingdom, including the EU referendum and the general election.
On Tuesday, the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports Select Committee published an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking for details of the political advertisements that were funded by the Russian state.
The letter that was agreed by the committee, was written by the body’s chairman, Damian Collins MP, on an official House of Commons paper. The letter is addressed to “Mark Zuckerberg, Esq.” at headquarters of Facebook in Menlo Park, California.
In the letter, Collins said that he needs the information for the investigation of his committee into fake news.
The tech giant has already provided the US Congress with similar data, revealing that Russian-linked accounts spent about $100,000 on 3,000 ad campaigns within a two-year period that was spanning the presidential election in 2016.
The letter requests for the following:
- Examples of all adverts purchased by Russian-linked accounts.
- Examples of all pages set up by Russian-linked accounts.
- Information regarding the targeting of these adverts and pages.
- How much money was paid for these adverts or to promote these pages.
- How many times these adverts were viewed.
- How many times these pages were viewed.
In an interview with The Sun newspaper, Collins stated: “We have seen from the investigation in the USA that Facebook was used by Russian-backed organisations to try and influence the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election.
Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) license from the United Kingdom Parliament “We need to know if the same techniques have been used in the UK around our election and the Brexit referendum.
“Facebook holds this information and I would like them to share it with the DCMS select committee as part of our inquiry into fake news, and the impact the abuse of social media platforms can have on our democracy.”
Previously, individual MPs have claimed that the government already has information regarding alleged Russian interference in British elections that it is not exposing to the public.
In an interview earlier in 2017 with Business Insider, Ben Bradshaw, the former Culture Secretary, stated: “Our government clearly knows more than they’re letting on and I think it’s slightly suspicious that they’re not being more open about it. In fact, they’re being less open than any other Western democracy has been.”