U.K. asks Facebook for information on Russia-linked Brexit ads

U.K. seeks info on Russian-linked Facebook ads
U.K. seeks info on Russian-linked Facebook ads

Facebook is facing more questions over Russian-linked ads -- this time in Britain.

British lawmakers have asked the company to provide information on any ads purchased by Russian-linked Facebook accounts around June's general election and last year's Brexit referendum.

Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, has requested details including how much money was spent on ads, how many times they were viewed and which Facebook users were targeted.

Collins wrote to CEO Mark Zuckerberg last week, framing his request as part of an inquiry into fake news and "the role of foreign actors abusing platforms ... to interfere in the political discourse of other nations."

The letter was made public on Tuesday. Facebook (FB) confirmed it had received the letter, and said it would respond "once we have had the opportunity to review the request."

Collins told CNNMoney that he is considering whether to hold a committee meeting on the issue at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., so that major U.S. tech executives could be questioned.

The lawmaker said he has also sent a letter to Twitter to inquire about automated accounts that were active during the period of the referendum. The issue was first raised in an academic study.

"Any interference in the democratic process of the United Kingdom by people acting illegitimately is a series matter," Collins wrote in a letter dated October 19.

Twitter (TWTR) declined to comment.

Facebook is under intense scrutiny following revelations that Russia may have used the platform to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Related: Russian-bought Black Lives Matter ad on Facebook

The social media giant has acknowledged that it sold approximately $100,000 worth of ads during the election cycle from inauthentic accounts and pages "likely operated out of Russia."

Facebook provided U.S. lawmakers with copies of 3,000 Russian-bought political ads in early October. It also gave the data to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is conducting his own investigation into election meddling.

Collins said in his letter to Zuckerberg that "the information I have requested is in line with that already supplied by Facebook to several United States Senate Committees."

Another U.K. parliamentary group -- the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee -- said in a report earlier this year that while it had no evidence of meddling in U.K. elections, it was "deeply concerned about allegations about foreign interference."

-- Lindsay Isaac contributed reporting.


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