Mark Zuckerberg has been asked to search for evidence that Russia-linked Facebook accounts were used to interfere in the EU referendum and the general election as part of a parliamentary inquiry into “fake news”. Damian Collins, the chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, has written to the Facebook founder after suspicions that Russian “actors” used the platform to interfere in British politics. Facebook has 32 million users in Britain. Similar evidence on the 2016 US presidential election has already been supplied by Facebook to several US Senate committees, including the Senate intelligence committee, before a hearing with legal representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google on 1 November in Washington DC. Facebook in the US disclosed last month that an influence operation that appeared to be based in Russia spent $100,000 (£75,000) on adverts to promote divisive political and social messages over a two-year period. In a letter to Zuckerberg sent on Thursday, Collins wrote that the committee was investigating the phenomenon of fake news.
“Part of this inquiry will focus on the role of foreign actors abusing platforms such as yours to interfere in the political discourse of other nations. It is for this reason that I am requesting that Facebook provides to my committee details relating to any adverts and pages paid for or set up by Russian-linked accounts,” the Conservative Mp wrote.
The letter, addressed to “Mark Zuckerberg, Esq” at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, asks for information about adverts purchased by Russia-linked accounts including how much money was paid and how many times adverts and pages were viewed.
The committee has called for more evidence for its inquiry before a closing date on 7 November.