MPs call on Facebook to reveal Russia-funded influence on Brexit

MPs call on Facebook to reveal Russia-funded influence on Brexit

A senior group of MPs has demanded information from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg about paid-for activity by Russian-linked accounts during the EU referendum and this year's snap general election.

The news follows Facebook's admission that it sold 3,000 political ads for fake pages linked to Russia designed to shape the US presidential election, and is part of the DCMS's select committee examining fake news.

In the letter to Zuckerberg, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chair Damian Collins wrote: "As you may be aware, the House of Commons Select Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is currently undertaking an inquiry into 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 ads and pages paid for, or set up by, Russian-linked accounts."

The letter goes on to "politely request" examples of ads purchased by and pages set up by Russian organisations, asking for details on how much was paid and how many times ads and pages were viewed.

The committee is currently calling for evidence to back its inquiry into fake news. The closing date for submitting evidence is 7 November.

The inquiry is looking at what point "biased but legitimate commentary" becomes propaganda, what impact fake news has on people’s understanding of the world and whether "changes in the selling and placing of advertising" have encouraged its growth in the pursuit of profit.

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