Facebook to expand probe into Russian ’influence’ on Brexit vote

Facebook to expand probe into Russian ’influence’ on Brexit vote

Facebook has told the Government’s fake news inquiry it will expand its investigation into whether Russian agents attempted to influence the Brexit vote.

In a letter to Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, Facebook’s head of policy in the UK, Simon Milner, said the social media giant would now search for "clusters engaged in coordinated activity around the Brexit referendum" which appear to have originated in Russia.

"It is right that companies like Facebook should initiate their own research into issues like this where there is such clear public concern, and not just act on intelligence that has been passed to them," Mr Collins, who leads the committee’s fake news inquiry, said in a statement. "They are best placed to investigate activity on their platform."

Facebook said security experts would begin their investigation "promptly" but may take several weeks to produce results.

Mr Collins had previously slammed Facebook for doing "no work" in looking for Russian interference on their platform during the 2016 referendum, after the company submitted evidence to the Electoral Commission in December of accounts which were active during the US Election.

In the letter, Mr Milner said Facebook believed those accounts, identified as part of Russia’s "Internet Research Agency" of trolls and propagandists, "seemed to be the most likely area" to find evidence of meddling in the UK but added that the company would now look deeper into its records.

"I look forward to seeing the results of this investigation, and I’m sure we will want to question Facebook about this when we know the outcome," said Mr Collins.

Executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google are due to give evidence to the parliamentary inquiry into fake news in February, when MPs visit Washington for the occasion.

- PA

More in this Section

Prince Andrew has no regrets about Epstein friendship, but final visit was wrongPrince Andrew has no regrets about Epstein friendship, but final visit was wrong

Donald Trump undergoes health check-upDonald Trump undergoes health check-up

Prince Andrew could not have slept with accuser ‘because he was at Pizza Express’Prince Andrew could not have slept with accuser ‘because he was at Pizza Express’

Jeremy Corbyn hails Labour manifesto that gives ‘promise of a better Britain’Jeremy Corbyn hails Labour manifesto that gives ‘promise of a better Britain’


Lifestyle

Kate Tempest’s Vicar Street show began with the mother of all selfie moments. The 33 year-old poet and rapper disapproves of mid-concert photography and instructed the audience to get their snap-happy impulses out of the way at the outset. What was to follow would, she promised, be intense. We should give ourselves to the here and now and leave our phones in our pockets.Kate Tempest dives deep and dark in Dublin gig

Des O'Sullivan examines the lots up for auction in Bray.A Week in Antiques: Dirty tricks and past political campaigns

Following South Africa’s deserved Rugby World Cup victory I felt it was about time that I featured some of their wines.Wine with Leslie Williams

All your food news.The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

More From The Irish Examiner