Facebook's investigation into alleged Russian interference in the UK's Brexit referendum has concluded that there is little evidence that its platforms were used by Russian 'trolls' to influence the outcome of the vote.
The company was responding to a demand from the House of Commons Committee on Digital, Culture and Sport. It had been summoned to give evidence to the Committee in December 2017 in its investigation into 'fake news'.
In particular, the Committee claims that a Russian government organisation, called the Internet Research Agency, has been using social media in a bid to influence politics, political opinions and elections across Europe and the US.
The Committee claimed that Facebook had failed to respond to all of its questions and, in January, demanded that it conduct another internal investigation.
In its response sent this week (PDF), though, Facebook claimed that its "investigation team found no additional coordinated Russian-linked accounts or pages delivering ads to the UK regarding the EU referendum... beyond the minimal activity we previously disclosed".
That minimal activity amounted to 71 pence of spending on advertising targeting voters in the UK in the run-up to the referendum in June 2016, largely as a result of mis-targeting related to the US presidential election.
Simon Milner, director of UK policy at Facebook, said that the company adopted the same method that it had used in a similar investigation to see whether Russian sources had sought to influence the US presidential election vote in 2016.
Milner said that the company had analysed user accounts and advertising trends during the Brexit campaign, but said there was no evidence to suggest that Russia had tried to influence the vote.
In the letter, Milner admitted that some of the results contrasted strongly with the US investigation, saying that they "comport with the recent indictments".
But there is no real evidence of Russian involvement in the run-up to the UK's vote to leave the European Union, wrote Milner, in contrast to the US.
He concluded: "We are not aware of any comparable findings or investigations of this nature by UK authorities.
"If such investigations were to occur and findings shared in respect of illegal activity in the UK against named individuals or organisations, we would of course be prepared to assess the existence and extent of any relevant activity by them on Facebook."
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