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Facebook agrees to widen Brexit vote fake news probe

Facebook agrees to widen Brexit vote fake news probe

Simon Milner, a policy director at Facebook, said work would be carried out promptly to see if "there was coordinated activity similar to that which was found in the U.S".

Despite this, Facebook has reportedly bowed to pressure from politicians and will once again conduct an investigation into whether or not Russians used the social media platform to spread disinformation and influence the Brexit vote.

But Collins' sceptical committee asked the company to look again.

"We are committed to making all reasonable efforts to establish whether or not there was coordinated activity similar to which we found in the US", Simon Milner, Facebook's United Kingdom policy director, wrote in the letter.

"This work requires detailed analysis of historic data by our security experts, who are also engaged in preventing live threats to our service".

Some have claimed Russia used the social network to influence the EU referendum
Some have claimed Russia used the social network to influence the EU referendum

Facebook previously linked the Internet Research Agency to social media profiles and accounts that posted content seen by as many as 126 million Facebook users during the 2016 White House race. "We are committed to making all reasonable efforts to establish whether or not there was coordinated activity similar to that which we found in the USA and will report back to you as soon as the work has been completed".

Last year, Facebook conducted an investigation at the request of the U.K.'s Electoral Commission on a cluster of accounts from Russia's Internet Research Agency (IRA), a so-called "troll farm" that was known to have disseminated fake news during the 2016 US presidential election.

Facebook concluded last month that their impact in Britain was limited because they had spent so little on adverts before the referendum.

Independent academic studies have suggested there was in fact significant tweet-based activity generated around Brexit by Russian bots.

British lawmakers probing possible Russian interference in the Brexit referendum revealed on Wednesday (Jan 17) that Facebook had agreed to broaden its own investigation into fake news in the run-up to the vote, after facing criticism of the social media platform's initial efforts.

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