LAGUNA BEACH, CA — A “small number” of the nearly 500 fake Facebook accounts with Russian ties also used the company’s Messenger app, a Facebook executive acknowledged on Wednesday.
“My understanding at this stage is that it’s a small number,” said David Marcus, VP of Messenger, onstage at the WSJD Live conference when asked about Russia-linked account activity on Messenger.
Marcus didn’t elaborate on how Russian agents used Facebook’s messaging app, which allows businesses to place ads and chat directly with users to provide customer support. But the revelation raises more questions about the extent of Russian propaganda efforts using social media services during the 2016 US election.
“The way the platform was being used is still being investigated,” he said. Facebook has already confirmed that it’s participating in ongoing investigations with special counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee on Russia’s meddling with US elections.
Marcus said that Facebook’s “impact in the world” has been “completely overshadowed” by its September revelation that Russian actors purchased thousands of ads on its platform during the US presidential election that were designed to amplify divisive political messages.
“The narrative about Facebook as of late has not been super positive,” he said.
Government investigators recently announced plans to release the Russia-linked ads, which were seen by at least 10 million people, publicly after Facebook helps scrub them of any personally identifying information.
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