Facebook representatives told congressional investigators today that ad space on Facebook was sold to a “shadowy” Russian company, according to the Washington Post. The representative said the Russian company paid $100,000 to use the ads to target voters during the presidential election last fall.
Some ads specifically named Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, but most focused on politically incendiary, hot-button issues like immigration or gun rights. It is currently unknown whether the ads were coordinated with help from anyone in the United States. Facebook found over 3,000 ads and hundreds of of likely fraudulent accounts that operate from Russia, several of which were traced back to a specific troll farm in St. Petersburg.
The Washington Post names the Internet Research Agency as a Russian company with a track record of using social media and fake news to influence public opinion with pro-Kremlin propaganda.
The statement comes during a congressional investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election. One of the ways the US inteligence community found that Russia had interfered was specifically through trolling social media with fake news meant to influence American voters.
Federal law prohibits foreign governments from financing any kind of attempt to influence any kind of United States election, and violators could face civil penalties and even criminal prosecution for doing so.