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Russia-Linked Accounts Were Active on Facebook Ahead of Brexit (ft.com) 254

The Russia-linked troll farm that used Facebook to target Americans during last year's election was also active in the UK ahead of the Brexit vote (Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source), the social media company has admitted. From a report: In a letter to the Electoral Commission, Facebook said accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency spent $0.97 for three ads in the days before the EU referendum. These ads appeared on approximately 200 news feeds in the UK before the country voted to leave the EU last year. For months the social media company has sidestepped questions from MPs and journalists about Russian interference through its platform in the UK. The concerns were fuelled by revelations this summer that Facebook had been weaponised by Russian entities before the election of US President Donald Trump. France and Germany have said their elections were also targeted. "We strongly support the Commission's efforts to regulate and enforce political campaign finance rules in the United Kingdom, and we take the Commission's request very seriously," Facebook said in the letter.
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Russia-Linked Accounts Were Active on Facebook Ahead of Brexit

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  • by rapiddescent ( 572442 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @12:08PM (#55731963)

    That's about the same value as a can of coke has been spent on pre-brexit facebook ads. Either, the spend was much better hidden (see how the vote leave campaign channelled GBP625,000 through a 23yr old student [independent.co.uk]) or brexit was not endorsed or funded by the Russians and simply fuelled by the stupid.

    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      simply fuelled by the stupid.

      We certainly have enough of those [theguardian.com] in the UK.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The ads were only a small part of the problem, the main one was fake accounts. Russians pretending to be ordinary British people.

      It's a very powerful technique, more so than obvious ads. That's why it's banned, companies aren't allowed to do it.

      • The Electoral Commision has concluded that Russian influence had very little effect so if you know differently I'd get in touch with them urgently. I think you're overestimating the power of social media to influence the over 60s.

        I don't think Putin had much to do with it though. Brexit to me is a purely British fuck up driven by xenophobia, a hankering for the days of Empire (while forgetting how truly terrible the days of Empire were for most of the people of this country and the rest of the countries we

        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          Brexit to me is a purely British fuck up driven by xenophobia

          Uh no. It's driven more by things like mass rape gangs in multiple cities by "asians" where the councils lean on the police to do nothing, because both groups are afraid of being labeled as "racist" if they arrest them. Or the pre-teen girl who was charged under hate crime laws for calling her rapist a bad name, but her rapist wasn't charged. Or muslims running amok with "sharia zones" and the police doing nothing. It's driven far more by unhindered and unrestricted migration and people being driven out

          • What will leaving the EU do to change the disinterest of the UK authorities in the fate of poor people? Jimmy Savile abused more children on his own than these rape gangs and no one gave a shit about that either. That's not going to change just because it'll be harder for Polish people to come here.

  • "200 news feeds"! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @12:08PM (#55731965)
    Only 200 news feeds, that's less then the average shot of a kitten falling off a sofa or a half-decent restaurant meal. Really if that's all they managed they aren't very good hackers, the effect would have been almost non-existent.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @12:19PM (#55732051)

      Note that the article (or maybe the source, Facebook) refuses to mention anything about the content of the ads. This is very similar to the "Russia-linked Facebook ads influencing the 2016 election" whose details were hidden for as long as the media could manage.
      Eventually, it came out that those ads were supporting Black Lives Matter and Hillary.
      The silence from the BBC and Facebook is a pretty strong indicator that the paltry advertising attempt was in support of the remain vote.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        So far the vast majority of identified Russian fake accounts have been leave supporters. It makes sense, Russia's goal is to weaken and destabilize it's enemies and that's exactly what has happened. Remaining would have been much less beneficial to them.

    • because they want to back off of brexit, they need to find as many reasons as possible
  • Everyone who thinks Facebook has the power to persuade people of ANYTHING are insane. When has it ever changed YOUR mind? It's the ultimate echo/thunderdome chamber where everyone only agrees with each other or causes pain, no actual change takes place there...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      so like slashdot

    • When has it ever changed YOUR mind?

      . . . if Facebook can control your mind . . . would they let you know about it . . . ?

      Maybe you're just a brain in a Facebook vat somewhere . . .

    • It probably won't change anyone's political orientation, but that's not the point. Almost all political campaigning focuses on two points:

      1. Re-enforce your base's opinions and get them motivated to actually take action.
      2. Depress your opponent's supporters.

      Facebook is a giant network of echo chambers. It's ripe for exploiting, taking the above model of political campaigning and ramping it up exponentially.

      • 1. Re-enforce your base's opinions and get them motivated to actually take action.

        That would be great but the only thing Facebook excels at is de-motivation.

        2. Depress your opponent's supporters.

        Which Facebook does not really manage to do At All.

        If everyone is in an echo chamber, then it's impossible to depress anyone. But on the flip side, you get all so beguiled by the echo chamber you do not need to do anything so if anything it makes it less likely you will take real action... Facebook is a tool for pa

        • That would be great but the only thing Facebook excels at is de-motivation.

          Uh, read (2)

          Which Facebook does not really manage to do At All.

          Wait, you just said... did you read what you literally said one sentence before that?

  • by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @12:24PM (#55732095)
    Russia-linked accounts were active on facebook before global warming.
  • by Nova Express ( 100383 ) <lawrenceperson@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @12:25PM (#55732105) Homepage Journal

    97 cents??? You're doing an entire Slashdot post about 97 cents worth of ads????

    More than $140 million was donated to the Clinton Foundation by Uranium One board members and associates [battleswarmblog.com], but no, let's focus on 97 cents worth of ads.

    The left's newfound Russia Derangement Syndrome is beyond parody.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        lol this guy is quoting snopes as if it was still credible

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashiki.gmail@com> on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @12:45PM (#55732225) Homepage

        That snopes article is full of so many inaccuracies that even World Weekly News wouldn't publish it. It also doesn't detract from the parent posters point that U1 dumped large sums of money to the Clinton's. Or that large parts of that uranium are now MIA, right off the fucking grid. Figure that one out, because it sure entered Canada and managed to get out of the country but nobody knows where it went. There's an on-going investigation here in Canada because it should have been something that was picked up by the ports.

      • Snopes is no longer to be fully trusted as they once were unfortunately, their reputation is now tarnished with some (deliberate) inaccuracies for the sake of political correctness.

    • It is outrageous and so are most /. posts about it.
      There still is some antidote being published though.
      Today: https://consortiumnews.com/201... [consortiumnews.com]

    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      The Uranium One conspiracy has been thoroughly debunked [mediaite.com] by now, but the Russian interference is ongoing and still relevant. Clinton isn't even a public figure these days, but Trump is president (in part due to Russian interference).

      The right's newfound Russia Defending Syndrome is beyond parody.
  • Who stands to win? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by h8sg8s ( 559966 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @12:27PM (#55732115)

    Who stands to win by the Balkanization of the World's most stable organizations? When the EU, NATO, the USA and other large/multi-national organizations fall, Russia, still smarting from the fall of the USSR, can rise in prominence. Putin already tried putting Humpty back together, tearing down everyone else is a parallel strategy.

    • Russia today has an economy the size of Australia...bunch of geldings reminiscing about their balls. The biggest threat they present is their technicians or engineers getting jobs in nations that are actual threats.

      A less American centric NATO isn't a benefit to Russia. Rather the opposite. Russia's direct neighbors are LESS likely to tolerate their bullshit than America is.

      • by Freischutz ( 4776131 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @12:42PM (#55732213)

        Russia today has an economy the size of Australia...bunch of geldings reminiscing about their balls. The biggest threat they present is their technicians or engineers getting jobs in nations that are actual threats.

        A less American centric NATO isn't a benefit to Russia. Rather the opposite. Russia's direct neighbors are LESS likely to tolerate their bullshit than America is.

        And here I was thinking that he biggest threat Russia poses consists of ~7000 nuclear warheads.

        • Nothing about that has changed. MAD remains in force. They aren't going to use them. At this point, it's not a practical geopolitical force.

          Unless they get so broke they start selling nukes for vodka money.

        • That is their biggest threat, and it's serious. I still don't know whether you were thinking though. They also have a small economy and it is relevant. They're not some miracle power which is going to conquer Europe and take over the US.

      • Keep in mind Lord Islay's maxim about the purpose of NATO: "Keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down."
        • When the Germanys were reunited, all of Europe was discussing what to call the 'new Germany'. Except Germany, they were discussing what to call France (Western Greater Germany) and Poland (Eastern Greater Germany).

        • Ismay, not Islay. Stupid Scotch. *hic*
    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      Thing is, although Russia benefits from Brexit (due to it greatly damaging and weakening the EU) so does the UK.

      So any Russian involvement is mostly irrelevant anyway.

  • I voted for BREXIT. Here's why

    Outside the EU with a Canada type deal the UK would have control over

    1) Immigration. Inside the EU we have to accept free movement of EU citizens. Not just to come to work, which I have no problem with, but also to claim benefits which I have a large problem with. And, more subtly, being inside the EU means we have to sign up to the ECHR. Article 8 of that makes it almost impossible to deport criminal, non EU aliens. Also if the UK is in the EU, it cannot refuse EU migrants and

    • by lazarus ( 2879 )

      I enjoy your posts.

      As long as you don't weaponize space...

      I agree completely with your stand on Brexit, although I am not in the EU and so am an outside observer. My overall feeling of what was happening in the EU was that it was (is) a bureaucratic nightmare where everything had to be brought down to the "weakest link" in the union. The problem with humans and any of their constructs are that people will always do as little as possible, or get away with as much as they can (to paraphrase Plato). So if t

    • I voted for BREXIT.

      Out of interest, what did you think would happen with the Irish border?

      And, more subtly, being inside the EU means we have to sign up to the ECHR. Article 8 of that makes it almost impossible to deport criminal, non EU aliens.

      Brexit has little ot do with that. ECHR is a separte thing and exiting the EU won't take us out of the ECHR. Also, Article 8, the right to a privacy?

      And third, it's false. We can and do deport people all the time.

      2) Trade. Inside the EU we need to have tariffs on non

      • by Cederic ( 9623 )

        Out of interest, what did you think would happen with the Irish border?

        I figured it'd remain open, including free movement of (Irish) people, and customs provided at source and/or destination not at the border.

        ECHR is a separte thing and exiting the EU won't take us out of the ECHR.

        He maybe meant the ECJ. I'm keen that we no longer come under ECJ but also very keen that we remain within the European Convention on Human Rights as guided by ECHR.

        The EU is not, Germany is. And it never happened

        Nonetheless, we already have a full country. Being unable to prevent further immigration while Germany is wide fucking open to all and sundry would only lead to further pressure on housing, public services, w

        • He maybe meant the ECJ.

          Great so he voted not knowing which institution was which.

          I'm keen that we no longer come under ECJ

          So, not keen on a trade deal with out largest export market then?

          Nonetheless, we already have a full country. Being unable to prevent further immigration while Germany is wide fucking open to all and sundry would only lead to further pressure on housing, public services, wages, etc.

          FFS we have no obligation to take in non EU citizens who have emigrated to Germany.

          Stopped? No. https://w [express.co.uk]

          • by Cederic ( 9623 )

            So, not keen on a trade deal with out largest export market then?

            We do not need the ECJ to rule on British law and governance to trade with Europe. Stop fucking pretending otherwise.

            That article is a pile of doublespeak.

            Well, it is The Express after all. But feel free to hunt out one of the others. Shit, you'll be telling me next that the EU's goal isn't a big European superstate.

            Great, another delusional Brexiteer. Is there any other sort?

            The cynical type with a dark sense of humour - something you're clearly lacking.

            • We do not need the ECJ to rule on British law and governance to trade with Europe. Stop fucking pretending otherwise.

              we need whatever the EU will agree to. If they don't agree there is no deal and stop fucking pretending otherwise.

              Well, it is The Express after all.

              You posted it knowing it was doublespeak.

              But feel free to hunt out one of the others.

              I'm not going to scour the internet to back up your lies, thanks. You have to do the work if you want to have any credibility.

              • by Cederic ( 9623 )

                we need whatever the EU will agree to. If they don't agree there is no deal and stop fucking pretending otherwise.

                You're acting as if 'no deal' is a bad thing.

                It's a fucking marvellous thing. That shouldn't stop us looking to do better, but I'd much rather have no deal than a shit deal.

                • You're acting as if 'no deal' is a bad thing.

                  Yes. Everyone with half a brain realises it.

                  It's a fucking marvellous thing. That shouldn't stop us looking to do better, but I'd much rather have no deal than a shit deal.

                  Well that's pretty stupid. You ought to rather have no deal than something worse. Refusing to take something better than no deal out of self-defeating spite is precisely the kind of stupidity I'd expect from a Brexiter.

                  And what, precisely do you think will happen with the Irish border with no

                  • by Cederic ( 9623 )

                    Yes. Everyone with half a brain realises it.

                    Well that's pretty stupid. You ought to rather have no deal than something worse.

                    Tell me, do you even realise you're contradicting yourself?

                    Refusing to take something better than no deal out of self-defeating spite is precisely the kind of stupidity I'd expect from a Brexiter.

                    That reflects on your own ability to judge people and understand them than it does on the people you're failing so miserably to understand.

                    Shit, I even made it easy for you and explicitly stated that we shouldn't avoid making a deal that's better than not having one.

                    And what, precisely do you think will happen with the Irish border with no deal?

                    Frankly exactly the fucking same as will happen with a deal. Free movement of Irish people, no barriers at the border.

                    • Tell me, do you even realise you're contradicting yourself?

                      u wot m8?

                      We'll likely get a shit deal, but make no mistake: even a shit deal will be better for us than no deal.

                      You on the other hand would pick the worse path just out of spite. The EU aren't stupid: they will offer us something better than no deal, but it won't be very good.

                      That reflects on your own ability to judge people and understand them than it does on the people you're failing so miserably to understand.

                      Every Brexiter I've spoken to has b

                    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

                      You on the other hand would

                      Please, stop embarrassing yourself. You've demonstrated repeatedly that you haven't a hope of predicting what I would do.

                      Every Brexiter I've spoken to has been a fool.

                      Hmm. What's the common denominator here. Wait, maybe we should look at this another way.

                      It's like you haven't got a clue what a border even is!

                      If by that you mean that I don't have a closed mind about what a border must look like, then you're correct. A border between two countries can manifest in multiple forms, including being completely wide fucking open.

                      Tell me, how many customs officials do you see when you get out of a rubber dinghy on

                    • Tell me, how many customs officials do you see when you get out of a rubber dinghy on Brighton Beach? Because that's our fucking border with France, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and sixteen other nearby countries.

                      Are you simple?

                      Even fucking North Korea has unguarded breaches and one border is covered in mines.

                      You've also apparently been ignoring the news that the border with Ireland has been a major sticking point. the only way of passing it was to promise regulatory compliance throughout the

    • I don't live there but I certainly don't blame you for voting for it, I think it was the right decision.
      I got a British passport through my parents, although considering what has hapenned to the place in the last 40 years since they left it? I kind of feel like the passport I have is mostly worthless.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      1. We could have had immigration controls on EU citizens. Other countries did, limiting numbers for the first few years, and it worked. The Labour government chose not to.

      Similarly, EU migrants can't claim benefits right away and can be asked to leave if they are unemployed for a few months. We choose not to enforce the latter at all.

      Now that EU citizens are leaving, we don't have enough doctors and nurses. Will Brexiteers volunteer to wait for British staff so that the rest of us don't have to wait longer?

  • by nagora ( 177841 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @12:39PM (#55732191)
    That Russia is the only country that does this, or that the CIA and MI6 don't have people working away doing the same thing? It's a bit pathetic.

    Darling: So you see, Blackadder, Field Marshal Haig is most anxious to eliminate all these German spies.

    Melchett: Filthy Hun weasels fighting their dirty underhand war!

    Darling: And, fortunately, one of *our* spies--

    Melchett: Splendid fellows, brave heroes, risking life and limb for Blighty!

    • Amen! (great quote, BTW)

      The hysteria plus the hypocrisy really is pathetic. Seeing the US in such a tizzy... the Russians are probably like, "that was the best 60 rubles we ever spent!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @12:58PM (#55732333)

    How many CIA linked accounts were active on Facebook?
    How many CIA linked accounts are still active on Facebook?

    • CIA employees have every right to express opinions about US elections. BBC, however, is funded by the British government. NY TImes' largest shareholder is a Mexican national with close ties to the Mexican government.
  • BBC was actively opinionating on US elections. BBC is not registered as a foreign agent. BBC is funded by the British government. Great Britain is not part of the US nor is it a US territory. This is open foreign interference in US elections which has been happening for close to 100 years.

  • Even the summary reads like an onion story. Is this a joke, parody, or do the editors truly want to share this news on this website with this audience? Some probably russian-related actors bought three ads for the amount of ONE dollar..? This is background noise. You can probably find even more adds of Pakistani people trying to influence the elections in Portugal

  • What does Occams razor say?
    Was there a huge coordinated group of people, effortlessly injecting fake news, creating stores, posting comments across the entire internet in an attempt to sway massive elections involving millions of people, many of which wouldn't even use a fucking computer.

    OR

    Did people just vote what they thought best?

    The far left have gone off the bloody deep end. Don't tell me, it's *.white *.males fault some how?

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