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FILE - Facebook logo. According to a court filing, Facebook is under investigation by the IRS. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Facebook said it sold $100,000 in ads to a Russian 'troll farm' during the presidential election


Facebook representatives told congressional investigators Wednesday that the company sold $100,000 worth of political ads to a Russian company during the 2016 presidential election.

The social media company said it traced the roughly 3,000 ad sales to a so-called Russian "troll farm" that is known for promoting pro-Kremlin propaganda using fake accounts.

Alex Stamos, Facebook's chief security officer, wrote in a blog post that although the ads didn't specifically reference the presidential election, voting or a particular candidate, they amplified "divisive messages" on the social media platform. He said the messages covered everything from "LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights."

Stamos added that, "about one-quarter of these ads were geographically targeted, and of those, more ran in 2015 than 2016." He didn't, however, specify what locations were targeted.

Facebook turned over the findings to federal authorities investigating Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Facebook briefed the Senate intelligence committee, but he still wants to know more.

"I have a lot more questions for Facebook, and I've got a lot of questions for Twitter," Warner said, noting that "we've got Twitter coming in." Warner did not say exactly when the meeting with Twitter would take place.

In addition to the 470 inauthentic accounts that Facebook said were run from Russia, company investigators also discovered an additional $50,000 in political ad spending that "might have originated in Russia."

Stamos said Facebook has shut down all of the inauthentic accounts that were still active.

Facebook has faced intense criticism since the election and has been under pressure to prevent the flow of false information. The company updated it advertising after the 2016 election to say it won't run ads that are "illegal, misleading or deceptive, which includes fake news."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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