Facebook: 'Insignificant Overlap' Between Ads Promoting Russia and Trump

February 16, 2018
article by Christina W. author
Facebook continues to deny that ads promoting Russia and Donald Trump were connected in an attempt to influence users. Facebook told a panel from the United States Senate that it found an insignificant overlap between ads and content promoted Russia and United States President Donald Trump.

The company went on to say that it was unable to prove or disprove allegations concerning collusion between Russia and Trump. A spokesperson also defended the company’s attempts to prevent malicious content on their network. They also detailed efforts that were being made ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. However, it is unlikely that the response will ease the concerns of lawmakers who doubt that the tech companies did enough to prevent the actions of the Russian Internet Research Agency. According to reports from Facebook, the IRA organized 129 real-world events that were viewed by more than 300,000 people. At least 60,000 said that they planned to attend the Russian-led events.

Other tech companies, like Twitter and Google, refrained from addressing a potential overlap between Russia’s IRA and Trump’s presidential campaign. Twitter did , however, admit that it was unaware, of any state-sponsored attempts to interfere with the American election. The company claimed that it was unable to monitor every tweet, but dedicated their teams to addressing malicious software, automation, and bots.

“We are committed to addressing the spread of misinformation on our platform…and to prevent future attempts to interfere with U.S. elections — but we recognize that spam and malicious automation are not limited to political content and can undermine the positive user experience we seek to offer irrespective of the content,” the company said.

Google also spoke to the Senate panel and detailed its efforts towards more transparent news in its search results. Some of those efforts included labeling sources, like RT and Sputnik, that are government-funded. They are also planning to label sources on Youtube. Facebook said that they have no problem with Russian funded companies using their advertising tools, but they must continue to comply with their policies. Twitter went on to defended hosting accounts from users like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Both personalities are known for stealing and releasing classified information.

“Consistent with our values and commitment to fostering an open exchange of ideas, unless the activity or posted content violates our Terms of Service or Twitter Rules, we do not bar controversial figures from our platform or prohibit accounts from posting controversial content,” the company said.

Both of the companies have denied using products made by Kaspersky Lab. Use of the security software company was banned amongst United States Federal Agencies after being accused of colluding with Russia. Facebook stopped using the company’s products in October, but they admit to still using a Kaspersky Lab product that gives the company information concerning threat activity. They are reportedly working on phasing out the use of this product as well.

Kaspersky has vehemently denied colluding with Russia during the US Presidential Election. The cybersecurity company is facing investigations from several Senate panels and legislators.


Source: Bloomberg