MOSCOW, Russian Federation, Sep 22 – The Kremlin on Friday distanced itself from the controversy over Russia-linked Facebook ads which may have influenced last year’s US election, saying Moscow had nothing to do with them.
“We don’t know who places ads on Facebook and how” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
“We have never done it and the Russian side has never had anything to do with it.”
Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the company would pass on to Congress details about Russia-linked ads that inflamed tensions around last year’s presidential election.
Earlier this month, Facebook said some 470 Russia-linked fake accounts spent a total of about $100,000 between June 2015 and May 2017 on ads that touted fake or misleading views and played on divisive social and political themes like race, gay rights, and immigration.
The ads were linked to a Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency, a secretive outlet in Saint-Petersburg which has been christened the “troll farm” by Russian media because its employees blogged and left comments under fake online identities.
A congressional investigation will focus on how the messages in the ads were manipulated by Russian interests.
The investigation is the latest development in a string of probes into possible Russian meddling in the election and whether it could have swung the vote in US President Donald Trump’s favour.
US intelligence agencies say Putin himself directed the intervention and Senate and Justice Department investigators have been chasing links between the Trump campaign and Moscow for evidence of collusion.
Moscow has denied all allegations of meddling in the vote.