Facebook said on Wednesday it had found that an influence operation probably based in Russia spent $100,000 on ads promoting divisive social and political messages in a two-year-period through May.
The social media network said that many of the ads promoted 470 “inauthentic” accounts and pages Facebook has now suspended. The ads spread polarizing views on topics such as immigration, race and gay rights, instead of backing a particular political candidate, it said.
Facebook announced the findings in a blogpost by its chief security officer, Alex Stamos, and said that it was cooperating with federal inquiries into influence operations during the 2016 presidential election.
The company said it found no link to any presidential campaign. Three-quarters of the ads were national in scope, and the rest did not appear to reflect targeting of political swing states as voting neared.
Facebook did not print the names of any of the suspended pages, but some of them included such words as “refugee” and “patriot”.