Facebook turns over Russian ad data to special counsel

For A Real Russia Collusion Story Follow A Different Trail

Facebook did not give the same information to Congress because it didn't want to disrupt Mueller's investigation or violate USA privacy laws, according to the report.

The social media company told lawmakers last week that it identified about 3,000 ads that were linked to fake accounts.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, now a partner at Thompson Coburn LLP, said that the revelation Mueller obtained a search warrant for Facebook content "may be the biggest news in the case since the Manafort raid". The information provided to Congress included copies of the ads and buyers' identities.

"Mueller clearly *already* has enough information on these accounts - and their link to a potential crime", tweeted Asha Rangappa, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation counterintelligence agent.

Facebook is launching the program in Canada as internet companies seek to fend off criticism they are not doing enough to thwart online interference with elections and politics. "To justify forcing FB to give up the info".

Alex Stamos, Facebook's Chief Security Officer, wrote in a blog post that most of the ads didn't focus on one candidate or the other, but "appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum - touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights".

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Russian Federation has denied any involvement in the election - and President Donald Trump slammed the Mueller probe as a "witch hunt".

It might help uncover whether Moscow had any help from President Donald Trump's campaign team in running its so-called "disinformation" campaign to swing the election into Trump's favour.

Facebook said it is cooperating with investigators and declined to comment further.

Facebook said in its initial statement that about 25% of the ads purchased by Russians during the election "were geographically targeted", and many analysts have found it hard to believe that foreign entities would have had the kind of granular knowledge of American politics necessary to target specific demographics and voting precincts.

Warner wants a public hearing to force Facebook to account for what happened on its platform during the election, and has been frustrated at the company's disclosures to date. "For example, if somebody knew about the Russian operation and helped it succeed, they could also be criminally liable", he said.

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