An internal review by Facebook found there was minimal, if any, effort expended by a Russian government-linked firm to influence the outcome of last year’s Brexit referendum, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
A grand total of 97 cents was spent by the so-called Internet Research Agency on three ads related to immigration issues in the months leading up to the June 23, 2016, and those were targeted at American audiences, Facebook said in a statement, The Times reported.
In all, just 200 viewers of those three Internet Research Agency ads hailed from Britain, Facebook said.
The same group has been found to have played a prominent role in influencing American public opinion in the 2016 presidential race with Facebook advertising.
But at least one member of Parliament involved in the inquiry considers Facebook’s figures suspect at the very least, and an independent expert agreed that the Menlo Park, California, company can’t possibly say for certain that Russian trolls didn’t attempt to sway the British referendum without a comprehensive public accounting of all the Kremlin-linked social-media accounts operating in U.K. cyberspace.
“We don’t either have the evidence yet to say that there was no set of users that targeted Brexit or indeed the U.K. general election,” University of Edinburgh political scientist Laura Cram told The New York Times in an email.
The Russian government did, however, try to sow discord in the United Kingdom in 2014 in the wake of the failed Scottish independence referendum, The Scotsman newspaper separately reported Wednesday, citing new research from the Atlantic Council, a U.S.-based think tank.
“We know that some genuine voters in Scotland had genuine concerns about the referendum…. What this shows is that pro-Kremlin Twitter accounts amplified those concerns, and spread the message that the vote was rigged,” said Atlantic Council analyst Ben Nimmo, The Scotsman reported.
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