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Facebook hands Russia-backed ads to election investigators

Robert Mueller wants to know if Russia bought social ads to skew the vote.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
September 17, 2017
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Reuters/Dado Ruvic

Those Russia-linked Facebook ads are more than just a reason for concern -- they could play an important role in one of the largest investigations in recent memory. CNN sources understand that Facebook has supplied the ads and "related information" to special counsel Robert Mueller and team after they obtained a search warrant. The move will theoretically help Mueller's investigative team find out who was behind the ads and whether or not they played a role in Russia's bid to skew the 2016 US presidential election. And reportedly, this only comes after other attempts to get the info fell flat.

The insiders claim that Facebook rejected House and Senate Intelligence Committee attempts to get the ads. The site's policy, in line with the Stored Communications Act, requires a warrant before it can hand over search data.

Mueller's spokesperson declined to comment, and Facebook would only say that it continues to "work with the appropriate investigative authorities." Don't expect to learn many specifics, then. All the same, this both highlights the breadth of the election interference investigation and the nature of these sorts of investigations circa 2017. Who'd have thought that social media ad spots could play a substantial role in a case like this?

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