World Bulletin / News Desk
Facebook has heeded calls from British MPs to deepen its investigation into whether Russian agents used the social media platform to spread fake news in order to influence the Brexit vote.
Communicating with the House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the online platform said it would examine whether there were more clusters of accounts spreading disinformation, having previously come under criticism for conducting a limited probe.
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 U.S. presidential election.
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.”
The select committee responsible for overseeing the investigation was concerned that the same “troll” accounts set up to target the U.S. election were also aimed at the U.K. and spread fake news that may have had an influence on the outcome of the vote on the UK’s deal for its departure from the EU, or Brexit.
“It is right that companies like Facebook should initiate their own research into issues like this,” said Damien Collins, chairman of the committee.
He added that he expected to question Facebook at the conclusion of the inquiry.
An independent investigation by the Guardian newspaper revealed that more than 400 bogus Twitter accounts run by the Russian agency have tried to meddle in British politics. One such account incorrectly portrayed Muslims in the aftermath of terrorist attacks last year in the U.K. to stir anti-Muslim sentiment.
Such “tweets” and disinformation have been used by a number of news organizations such as the Sun and the Daily Mail.
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