MPs demand Facebook reveals evidence of meddling in Brexit referendum
An influential committee of MPs has written to Facebook asking for any evidence it had of Russia using it to meddle in the Brexit referendum.
Members of the House of Commons' Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee have called on the social media giant to hand over evidence of paid-for activity by accounts linked to Russia at the time of the vote.
In a move similar to that of the US Congress's demands, the MPs are insisting the firm's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, provides details of all dealings Facebook had with Kremlin-linked groups who pushed political messaging during the referendum, as well as this year's general election.
Russia has repeatedly denied interfering in the democratic processes of other countries, but earlier this month it emerged it had paid to put adverts containing "divisive social and political messages" on Instagram - owned by Facebook - during the US presidential election campaign. Facebook is handing more than 3,000 posts to investigators in the US.
The letter, written by the committee's chair Damian Collins, says: "I am writing to you to request information regarding the use of Facebook advertising and pages by Russian-linked accounts in the lead up to, and during, the 2016 Referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union and the 2017 British General Election.
You may also want to watch:
"As you may be aware, the House of Commons Select Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is currently undertaking an inquiry into the phenomenon of fake news. Part of this inquiry will focus on the role of foreign actors abusing platforms such as yours to interfere in the political discourse of other nations.
"It is for this reason that I am requesting that Facebook provides to my Committee details relating to any adverts and pages paid for, or set up by, Russian-linked accounts."
- 1 The bigot we should have called out on day one
- 2 Nigel Farage launches new party in Scotland to promote 'positive case for the Union'
- 3 The greatest failure of government in our lifetime
- 4 Matt Hancock praises free school meals before being reminded he voted against them
- 5 Brexit changes lead to exodus of Brits from Spain, UK nationals claim
- 6 James O'Brien schools Brexiteer who refuses to accept new EU-UK trade rules
- 7 Brexiteer rebuked after backing Nigel Farage's 'East Germany' claims
- 8 Brexiteer MP ridiculed after calling for free movement of goods between GB and NI
- 9 Tory candidate suspended by party over comments about ‘fat’ food bank user
- 10 No 10 defends Stanley Johnson receiving two coronavirus vaccines while others don't
Mr Collins then goes on to "politely request" examples of all adverts bought and pages set up by Russian accounts, information regarding their targeting, how much was paid and how many times they were viewed.
He goes on: "I believe that the information that I have requested is in line with that already supplied by Facebook to several United States Senate Committees, including the Senate Intelligence Committee, in relation to the 2016 US Presidential Election."
A spokeswoman for Facebook said: "We have received a letter from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee and will respond once we have had the opportunity to review the request."
The committee's inquiry - which was delayed because of the general election earlier this year - aims to explore the impact of fake news.
Former GCHQ boss Robert Hannigan last week warned ministers they would have to regulate Facebook and other online giants to counter the fake news threat.
Speaking to The Sun, Mr Collins said: "We have seen from the investigation in the USA that Facebook was used by Russian-backed organisations to try and influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
"We need to know if the same techniques have been used in the UK around our election and the Brexit referendum."
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.