(credit: Marco Paköeningrat)
Facebook has confirmed a Washington Post report indicating that its ad sales team had sold advertising to a “shadowy Russian company” ahead of the 2016 Presidential election.

These sponsored FB posts, in turn, were used to “target” American voters, either by directly naming presidential candidates or by focusing on “politically divisive issues.”
This information was disclosed to congressional investigators, according to “several people familiar with the company’s findings,” after an internal Facebook investigation this spring linked $100,000 of ad buys to a Russian company known as the Internet Research Agency.

The WP‘s sources described the company as a pro-Kremlin “troll farm.” Facebook’s investigation confirmed, via “digital footprints,” that 3,300 ads from 470 “suspicious and likely fraudulent Facebook accounts and pages” were all linked to the same Russian company.
Those ads were targeted, according to an unnamed Facebook official, at users who’d “expressed interest” in politically charged topics such as African-American social issues, the Second Amendment, immigration, and the LGBT community.

Facebook declined to show congressional investigators the exact content of these ads, citing both the company’s data policy and federal law about disclosing user data and content.
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