Facebook Has Reportedly Given Special Counsel Robert Mueller More Details About Russian Ad Spending
Facebook previously confirmed that a Russian troll farm had bought $100,000 worth of ads and ran them on Facebook during the 2016 presidential election. Now, new reports say the social media company has provided special counsel Robert Mueller more details about the ad spending.
Facebook provided copies of the ads and explained who bought them and how they were used to target certain groups, said a source who wished to remain anonymous.
Per Bloomberg, Facebook is apparently now working with investigators and declined to say anything more about the matter. Facebook's information is of paramount interest to Mueller, especially as investigators try to determine if Russia intervened during the 2016 presidential campaign period.
The new information includes more details than the amount Facebook originally shared in Congress previously, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Authorities are looking into how agents could have possibly used online advertising on social media and search engines to affect the election. That means tech firms such as Facebook are being forced to provide sensitive new information to investigators.
Other social media, and Facebook in particular, are "red-hot" topics of the investigation, according to Bloomberg.
It's likely that Facebook was compelled to share more details because there was a search warrant. Otherwise, it might not have voluntarily offered it to the authorities at all. This essentially means Facebook might have chosen to withhold information that could help investigators.
An alternative theory by TechCrunch suggests Facebook could have deliberately shared more details about the Russian ad spending to Mueller because his investigation is tighter. Sharing more sensitive information with the Congress might increase the chance of leaks.
Facebook And The Russian Ad Spending During The 2016 Election
Last week, Facebook revealed it had sold $100,000 in political ads to pro-Kremlin accounts between 2015 and 2017. It also said there's evidence that some of the accounts have ties to a troll farm in St. Petersburg, though it had no way to independently confirm that information.
All these discoveries arrive amid questions about Russia's role in the last election, and whether President Donald Trump's campaign sought help from the Russian government to get ahead in the election.
When Trump eventually won, some accused Facebook of letting it happen, or at least helping. Some thought its inability to curb fake news on news feeds helped spread misinformation among voters. At the time, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied the allegations, calling the idea "crazy."