Facebook said on Wednesday that it had found that an influence operation likely based in Russia spent $100,000 on ads promoting divisive social and political messages in a two-year-period through May. The social media network said that many of the ads promoted 470 “inauthentic” accounts and pages that it has now suspended. The ads spread polarizing views on topics including immigration, race and gay rights, instead of backing a particular political candidate, it said. Facebook announced the findings in a blog post by its chief security officer, Alex Stamos, and said that it was cooperating with federal inquiries into influence operations during the 2016 US presidential election.
The company said it found no link to any presidential campaign. Three-fourths of the ads were national in scope, and the rest did not appear to reflect targeting of political swing-states as voting neared.
Facebook did not print the names of any of the suspended pages, but some of them included such words as “refugee” and “patriot”.
The findings buttress US intelligence agency conclusions that Russia was actively involved in shaping the election.