Reports indicate that Facebook has admitted that Russia tried to influence the outcome of the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom more than a year ago. Earlier the social media giant had indicated that it had no evidence of interference by Russia. This comes two months since Facebook revealed that Russian accounts had spent close to $100,000 in adverts numbering more than 3,000 aimed at influencing the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The ads are estimated to have been viewed by approximately 126 million people.
Following the U-turn regarding Brexit Facebook has disclosed that there was significant coordination of political misinformation or ad buys during the EU referendum campaigns. Earlier in the week U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May claimed in London in a foreign policy speech that Russia had meddled in the country’s recent elections.
Sowing discord in the West
According to May Russia is trying to weaponize information by using its media organizations in order to plant fake new with the aim of undermining the institutions of the West as well as sowing discord in Western democracies. But she vowed that Russia would not succeed arguing that the West was resilient and would not succumb to the machinations of Kremlin.
Following Facebook’s disclosure, MPs in the United Kingdom now want tech firms from the United States to provide detailed examples of what was being posted by Russian-linked accounts when campaigns for the EU referendum were taking place. Damian Collins, the head of the digital media and culture committee in the House of Commons revealed that the inquiry of the committee into fake news had been widened with a view to finding answers on alleged interference in the democratic processes of the United Kingdom.
U.S. tech giants
Consequently Collins has requested Google, Facebook and Twitter to provide his committee with details concerning Kremlin-linked accounts suspected of having been used to interfere during the Brexit referendum as well as this year’s general election.
Facebook’s admission of Russian interference during Brexit comes in the wake of the social media giant launching an app known as Facebook Creator App aimed at making it easier and convenient for users of the social media platform to create original livestreams and video using their mobile devices.
“We’re rolling out a new app that will be a one-stop shop for creators of all sizes, which will let creators easily make original videos, go live with exclusive features, and connect with their community on Facebook,” said the product vice president at Facebook, Fidji Simo.