Earlier this week we heard about how some confirmed Russian troll accounts on Twitter had been posting pro-Brexit views, while trying to stir up trouble. Now Facebook seems to have admitted that the country did try and meddle with the Brexit vote in some small way.
Buzzfeed got in touch with Facebook to ask whether or not there were any Kremlin-linked ads on Facebook around the time of the EU referendum last June.
“To date, we have not observed that the known, coordinated clusters in Russia engaged in significant coordination of ad buys or political misinformation targeting the Brexit vote."
Buzzfeed pressed on, asking whether or not this contradicted previous claims that there was no evidence that the Kremlin was using the platform to try and influence the outcome. Facebook stuck with the official statement that there was no 'serious co-ordination'.
That's quite a carefully worded response, and while there's no outright admission that Russia was attempting to meddle with the Brexit vote it doesn't discount the possibility that there were some small scale adverts running on Facebook that were linked to the Russian government. Apparently Facebook wouldn't comment on that particular line of questioning.
Naturally the big campaign was targeting the US election , to seemingly get Donald Trump into the White House. The US plays a much bigger role in the world of global geopolitics than we do, so it would make sense that Russia would step up its game there. Or it could be that Brexit was a way of preparing itself for the big score.
Unless there's a proper investigation we'll probably never know just how much work was put into any Russian-led pro-Brexit propaganda, or how significant it was. The vote was very close, with only a 3.8 per cent difference between both results (1,269,501 votes), and it was probably always going to be that way. Still, with such a close vote even the smallest amount of Russian meddling could have affected the outcome, and it would be nice to see whether it could have possibly affected the final result.
Theresa May has already called out Russia for meddling in the vote, though it's not likely to change her government's trainwreck of an attempt to secure a deal for the UK when it leaves the EU. [Buzzfeed via TechCrunch]