Facebook reports massive Russian-funded misinformation social media campaign

UPDATE 1-Twitter to brief Congress on possible Russia-backed ads -US senator

Uncooperative Social Media Companies Could Face Subpoenas in Russia Inquiry

470 fake accounts were launched from Russian Federation.

Warner said he wanted to have Facebook brief lawmakers again and that he wanted Twitter and other companies to do the same.

Facebook on Wednesday said it had found evidence that fake accounts "likely operated out of Russia" purchased thousands of ads during the U.S. presidential election. The spokesperson also declined to say whether Facebook would reveal the ads publicly after Mueller's investigation was concluded. When Facebook officials finally did show up to the Hill Wednesday, they revealed the bombshell that a Russian "troll farm" linked to the Kremlin had purchased $100,000 worth of ads - some of which appear created to plug Facebook users into streams of fake news and Russian propaganda. He also warned that $100,000 investment - a paltry sum in the context of an American presidential campaign - might be "just the tip of the iceberg" of Russian activity on social networks.

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"To the extent that Facebook and other social media companies don't voluntarily cooperate, I would expect subpoenas to be issued and other legal avenues to be pursued", she added - though it's uncertain whether the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees would oblige Democrats' push to compel cooperation.

What Facebook found is "one small piece of this larger, consistent, Russian effort", John Sipher, a former CIA agent who ran the agency's Russia program for three years, told the NewsHour. "I'm sure there's all kinds of other stuff that hasn't been picked up on yet". A company official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told McClatchy it considers that inquiry to be a starting point for further review.

Twitter has mechanisms in place to try to prevent bots from spreading fake trends around the internet, but new research by a cybersecurity firm called FireEye found that one bot-propelled hashtag still broke through, and Twitter's relative lenience on fake accounts compared to Facebook doesn't help.

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Facebook usually puts up a legal fight over demands for client information, but the company's published policies make exceptions in the case of subpoenas in criminal investigations and, presumably, in counterintelligence investigations like the ones into Russia's cyberattacks.

Facebook briefed USA lawmakers on Wednesday and turned over information about the ads to Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading his own investigation into alleged Russian interference, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Facebook originally proposed trekking to the Hill in the middle of the August recess, a traditionally quiet time when much of Washington is on vacation, but that idea was immediately met with pushback from Hill investigators who argued nobody would be in town, sources said Friday. It recently announced it wouldn't allow pages to advertise on its site if they repeatedly posted fake content, and that it has been increasingly monitoring and shutting down fake accounts.

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