A group of British Parliament members has asked Facebook to provide information on any ads bought by Russia-linked Facebook accounts around important votes.
Damian Collins, chair of the House of Commons Select Committee for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, has written a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking for any details on ad spends, how many times such ads were viewed, and which Facebook users were targeted.
The investigation is part of an inquiry into “fake news” and how it may have influenced the 2016 Brexit vote and votes in the June 2017 general election.
“Part of this inquiry will focus on the role of foreign actors abusing platforms such as yours to interfere in the political discourse of other nations,” Collins wrote in the letter.
The committee’s questions are remarkably similar to those posed by investigators in the U.S., who have found links to Russian-purchased ads that could have influenced the 2016 presidential election. Facebook has already handed over similar information to several U.S. Senate committees and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is also investigating election meddling.
The UK Parliament committee has asked that the evidence be made available before November 7, as that is when its discussions are set to begin.
Collins has already held meetings with Facebook in the UK and the U.S. about its strategy of dealing with fake news. He has also called on Facebook to act as strongly on the issue of fake news and Russian interference as it has pledged to act on child abuse images or copyright violations.
Some ministers of parliament have already claimed that the government has details of alleged Russian influence in British elections, which it is withholding from the public.
Another member of the parliament, Ben Bradshaw, has asked the government to investigate reports of hidden funding sources for some elements of the pro-Brexit campaign, citing “widespread concern over foreign and particularly Russian influence.”
The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee of Parliament said in a report earlier this year that, although it had no evidence of Russian interference in UK elections, it was “deeply concerned about allegations of foreign interference.”
Russia, of course, denies interfering in U.S. and UK politics.
Photo: Michal Ludwiczak / Shutterstock.com