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19 January 2018, 02:00 | Floyd Cook
Facebook is investigating possible Russian meddling in the 2016 Brexit referendum | Justin Tallis AFP via Getty Images
Facebook will expand an investigation into whether Russians tried to influence the Brexit vote, the social media giant told MPs today.
"You expressed a view that there may be other similar coordinated activity from Russian Federation that we had not yet identified through our investigation and asked for us to continue our investigatory work".
The select committee responsible for overseeing the investigation was concerned that the same "troll" accounts set up to target the USA election were also aimed at the United Kingdom 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 European Union, or Brexit.
"I$3 n limiting their investigation to just the Internet Research Agency, Facebook missed that it is only one troll farm which "has existed within a larger disinformation ecosystem in St. Petersburg, " including Glavset, an alleged successor of the Internet Research Agency, and the Federal News Agency, a reported propaganda "media farm, " according to Russian investigative journalists", the report authors write.
Damian Collins, a member of Parliament and the committee chair, criticised the investigation, saying it didn't answer questions he had put to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last October regarding the activity of Russia-linked accounts.
Facebook's new search in Britain will require the company's security experts to go back and analyze historical data.
Moscow has denied any involvement in either the British Leave campaign or in US President Donald Trump's surprise election.
Facebook concluded last month that their impact in Britain was limited because they had spent so little on adverts before the referendum.
The committee is conducting an inquiry into fake news and misinformation.
The UK Electoral Commission had asked the company to look at accounts identified as part of Russia's "Internet Research Agency" of trolls and propagandists, which interfered in the USA presidential election.
But it did not investigate ad spends from other accounts that could have been linked to Russian Federation.
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