Facebook has issued a carefully worded statement that appears to admit for the first time that some Russia-linked accounts may have used the platform to interfere in the EU referendum.
Responding to two questions from BuzzFeed News on Monday about whether there were any Kremlin-linked ads on Facebook around the time of the 2016 Brexit vote, a spokesperson said the tech company had not “observed … significant co-ordination”.
“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,” said the spokesperson.
When pushed about whether the statement contradicted a top Facebook executive’s earlier words that were was no evidence that Russia interfered in Brexit, a spokesperson said the official statement about “significant co-ordination” was the one the company was standing by.
The company refused to clarify whether the statement meant it was aware of at least some coordinated action during last year’s referendum, despite several requests.
On Monday night, Theresa May used a major foreign policy speech in London to call out Russia’s “meddling” in recent elections.
Russia “is seeking to weaponise information,” the prime minister said. “Seeking to deploying its state run media organizations, to plant fake stories and photoshopped images in an attempt to sow discord in the West and undermine our institutions.
“So I have a very simple message for Russia: We know what you are doing and you will not succeed, because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the…