Facebook has issued a carefully worded statement of which appears to admit for initially of which some Russia-linked accounts may have used the platform to interfere inside the EU referendum.
Responding to two questions through BuzzFeed News on Monday about whether there were any Kremlin-linked ads on Facebook around the time of the 2016 Brexit vote, a spokesperson said the tech company had not “observed … significant co-ordination”.
“To date, we have not observed of which the known, coordinated clusters in Russia engaged in significant coordination of ad buys or political misinformation targeting the Brexit vote,” said the spokesperson.
When pushed about whether the statement contradicted a top Facebook executive’s earlier words of which were was no evidence of which Russia interfered in Brexit, a spokesperson said the official statement about “significant co-ordination” was the one the company was standing by.
The company refused to clarify whether the statement meant the item was aware of at least some coordinated action during last year’s referendum, despite several requests.
On Monday night, Theresa May used a major foreign policy speech in London to call out Russia’s “meddling” in recent elections.
Russia “is actually seeking to weaponise information,” the prime minister said. “Seeking to deploying its state run media organizations, to plant fake stories as well as photoshopped images in an attempt to sow discord inside the West as well as undermine our institutions.
“So I have a very simple message for Russia: We know what you are doing as well as you will not succeed, because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free as well as open societies, as well as the commitment of Western nations to the alliances of which bind us.”
As the item did inside the face of pressure through US lawmakers over the last 12 months, Facebook has slowly started off softening its public language about whether Russia-linked accounts also went after the EU referendum.
UK MPs at of which point want answers through the big US tech companies, calling for some detailed examples of just what Russian-linked accounts were posting about Brexit around the time of the vote.
The head of the House of Commons’ digital media as well as culture committee Damian Collins has effectively widened the boundaries of the committee’s “fake news” inquiry in order to chase down the issue of interference inside the UK democratic process.
“As Facebook has provided of which information to the United States Congress, in relation to the 2016 presidential election, I see no reason why such information cannot be provided to the select committee,” Collins told BuzzFeed News.
Collins has written to Twitter, Facebook, as well as Google asking them to cough up details about what Kremlin-linked accounts had been using their platforms to interfere inside the EU referendum as well as 2017 general election.
BuzzFeed News understands Collins is actually preparing to take the committee’s inquiry to the US early next year for hearings with the tech giants.
Last week, evidence of which Russia used Twitter to influence Brexit emerged, after Wired looked at a cache of social media posts through 2016 by accounts the social network had confirmed were Russian-backed. The report showed a “network of accounts posted pro as well as anti-Brexit, anti-immigration as well as racist tweets around the EU referendum vote while also targeting posts in response to terrorist attacks across the continent.”