Facebook has received a letter from the UK parliament requesting information on the alleged use of Facebook ads and pages by Russian-linked accounts ahead of the 2016 Brexit referendum and this year’s general election. The UK Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee is currently carrying out an investigation into fake news allegedly used during major political campaigns.
"We have received a letter from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee and will respond once we have had the opportunity to review the request," a Facebook spokesperson told Sputnik on Tuesday.
British lawmakers requested examples of all adverts purchased by Russian-linked accounts, all pages set up by Russian-linked accounts, information regarding the targeting of these adverts and pages, amount of money paid for these adverts and their promotion as well as the number of views of these adverts and pages, according to the document.
In Britain, interest in alleged Russian meddling in the country’s political processes has recently been on the rise. Last week, British opposition lawmaker Ben Bradshaw called on the government to investigate "widespread concern over foreign, and particularly Russian, interference in Western democracies," especially, during the Brexit campaign.
This recent request to Facebook marks the UK following in the footsteps of the United States where the executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter are expected to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee on November 1 to testify about alleged Russian-sponsored ads on US social media platforms during the electoral campaign. For its part, a House panel has started investigating the issue.
In September, Facebook said that Russia-linked entities allegedly bought $100,000 worth of political advertisements in a two-year period up to May of this year. Adam Schiff, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said that the panel plans to make public the Facebook ads that allegedly were purchased by the Russian-backed accounts.
Moscow has denied the claims that it waged a pro-Trump advertisement campaign on social media as groundless.
"We have never done this, the Russian side has never been involved in it," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
The mainstream media has also contributed to blowing the story out of proportion. Earlier this month, The Washington Post ran a story claiming an investigation by Google had uncovered Russia’s attempts to influence the election by purchasing digital ads on YouTube, Gmail and other platforms. The newspaper cited unnamed "people familiar with the investigation" as sources while the company itself refused to comment. The report has not been confirmed since it was published.