MPs want info on Russia-linked Facebook accounts
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has been urged to hand over details of activities by Russian-linked accounts during the EU referendum and this year’s General Election.
The request comes from a group of MPs who are investigating the impact of “fake news” being circulated on social media.
In a letter, Conservative MP Damian Collins told Mr Zuckerberg the House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee aims to uncover “the role of foreign actors abusing platforms such as yours to interfere in the political discourse of other nations”.
The Tory backbencher, who chairs the committee, highlighted how Facebook has already supplied information on 3,000 Russian-linked adverts to several US investigations into Moscow’s influence on Donald Trump’s election to the White House.
The MPs are asking Mr Zuckerberg to provide information on Facebook adverts bought by Russian-linked accounts, pages set up by Russian-linked accounts, details of the targeting of these adverts and pages, and how many times these pages and adverts were viewed.
Last year, former culture secretary Ben Bradshaw claimed it was “highly probable” that Russia interfered in the EU referendum, although the Labour MP admitted evidence had yet to be found.
As well as investigations into Russian meddling into the US presidential election, which Mr Trump has branded a “witch-hunt”, concerns were also raised about Moscow’s influence on recent elections in France and Germany.
During the French presidential election campaign, eventual victor Emmanuel Macron accused his challenger Marine Le Pen of spreading “fake news” about his tax arrangements.
His team claimed he was the victim of a “cyber misinformation campaign”, with Russian-linked websites said to be the source of the allegations.
Last week, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson accused some Labour MPs of “legitimising propaganda” by appearing on Moscow-backed TV channel Russia Today.
Tory MPs have also appeared on the channel.