Facebook says no more than 200 UK viewers saw Russia's Brexit ads

 
Lucy White
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Facebook said the adverts were probably aimed at US viewers (Source: Getty)

Facebook has found just three adverts posted by Russian accounts in its attempt to investigate potential meddling by the country in last year's Brexit vote.

The Electoral Commission had asked the social media giant to look into any interference with the referendum last year. In a letter to the commission, Facebook said the trio of adverts had cost less than $1 (75p) in total to post and had been seen by no more than 200 UK-based viewers over a four-day period.

It added that the three adverts were in fact probably aimed at US viewers, and concerned immigration rather than the EU referendum directly.

Read more: UK MPs demand info on Russia election and Brexit meddling from Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg

“We strongly support the Commission’s efforts to regulate and enforce political campaign finance rules in the United Kingdom, and we take the Commission’s request very seriously," wrote a Facebook spokesperson in the letter.

This follows the revelation that Russia-funded adverts placed on Facebook aiming to influence the US presidential election last year could have reached up to 126m Americans, according to a testimony prepared by the company for the Senate judiciary committee in October.

Russia's president Vladimir Putin had denied attempting to influence either vote, though the money for the adverts was found to have come from a Kremlin-sponsored outfit called the Internet Research Agency (IRA).

Read more: Facebook has finally bowed to pressure to release Russian-bought election ads

The US Office of the National Director of Intelligence earlier this year released a report which concluded that "Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election".

This caused Facebook to undertake further analysis, during which it found around 470 accounts and pages run by IRA accounts which spent around $100,000 running more than 3,000 ads between June 2015 and May 2017.

“Facebook, Google and Twitter have responded to us. We welcome their cooperation," said a spokesperson for the Electoral Commission.

"There is further work to be done with these companies in response to our request for details of campaign activity on their platforms funded from outside the UK. Following those discussions we will say more about our conclusions.”

Read more: Facebook, Google and Twitter reveal more Russia-linked accounts ahead of US senate committee grilling

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