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Facebook expands probe into whether Russian spies swung Brexit vote

19 January 2018

"We have considered your request and can confirm that our investigatory team is now looking to see if we can identify other similar clusters engaged in coordinated activity around the Brexit referendum that was not identified previously", writes Milner in the letter to Collins.

Facebook's new search in Britain will require the company's security experts to go back and analyze historical data.

"In limiting their investigation to just the Internet Research Agency, Facebook missed that it is only one troll farm which 'has existed within a larger disinformation ecosystem in St. Petersburg, ' including Glavset, an alleged successor of the Internet Research Agency, and the Federal News Agency, a reported propaganda 'media farm, ' according to Russian investigative journalists", the Senate report said.

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In a letter to Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, Facebook's head of policy in the UK, Simon Milner, said the social media giant would now search for "clusters engaged in coordinated activity around the Brexit referendum" which appear to have originated in Russian Federation.

His committee in October asked Facebook, Twitter Inc. and other internet companies to provide information about how the Russian government used social media accounts to influence the Brexit vote and the 2017 election.

The company said it would take a few weeks to complete the re-analysis and asked the British authorities for access to intelligence and other information that would help them.

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Russian Federation denies meddling in Britain's vote to exit the European Union, known as Brexit, or in the 2016 U.S. elections.

The Russian government has repeatedly denied any involvement either in the election of Donald Trump in the United States or Brexit in the UK. In December, Facebook said in response to Collins' inquiry that a mere $0.97 was spent by Russia's Internet Research Agency on the referendum-related ads.

The committee is conducting an inquiry into fake news and misinformation. In the US, Facebook has found over 3,000 adds that link suspected Russian agents with the spread of divisive messages, aiming to polarize the campaign.

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Facebook expands probe into whether Russian spies swung Brexit vote