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Facebook Investigating Fake Russian Accounts' Posts From 2016 Election

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A top Facebook official said in Minneapolis Thursday the company is investigating hundreds of fake accounts from Russia during last year's election.

Facebook revealed last week it shut down 478 fake accounts that originated in Russia and appeared to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election and now says it has detected that some accounts spent $100,000 on at least 3,000 ads, mostly on divisive issues.

During a social media conference at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, a top Facebook executive downplayed the ad buy, but said the investigation is ongoing.

"A hundred thousand dollars is a tiny fraction of campaign spending, both on Facebook and overall," said Sharon Yang, a member of the Global Politics and Government Outreach team at Facebook. "Even with this small amount, we take this very, very seriously."

In Minnesota, there's no similar evidence of election tampering on social media.

But Facebook played a large role in the election—a good one: Secretary of State Steve Simon says a single Facebook notification smashed the state's 24,000-in-one-day voter registration record.

"In one day in October last year, we had nearly 70,000 people go to our website to register to vote," Simon said.

Simon says Minnesota needs more protection against possible cyber-hacking of online records, but says the state's offline voting system is safe.

"Minnesota is still old school," Simon said. "We still vote with pen and paper. We still go to a place. It's basically a glorified desk and you fill in an oval with a pen. It's hard to hack paper."

Simon says he will ask the 2018 Minnesota legislature for more cyber security funding.


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