Twitter finds 201 Russian accounts also linked to Facebook ads

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Facebook's ability to target ads has made it a powerful platform for advocacy groups and candidates.

The ad - also aimed at users in Ferguson, Mo. - followed the 2015 rioting sparked by the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

The committees have invited Facebook, Twitter and Google's parent company, Alphabet, to appear, with the House panel planning to hold its hearing in October and the Senate committee in early November.

This is a breaking news and developing story.

Further, a venture capitalist and early investor in Facebook, Roger McNamee said that the Russian effort may have started as merely an attempt to sow discontent.

Reacting to Trump's accusation, Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO and founder said the social media platform had tried to be neutral in the 2016 U.S. elections. And as a man obsessed by data and metrics, he's probably looking at the problem of Russian-backed fake news ads and seeing it as a minuscule part of all the election goings-on on his network of 2 billion people. How did they have that level of specificity?

The Internet Research Agency is "a state-funded organization that blogs and tweets on behalf of the Kremlin", according to US military intelligence. However, Russia observers consider Facebook's revelation plausible as it tallies with known efforts by the Kremlin to try and influence election outcomes.

'Did they know this just by following political news in America? Should they agree to testify, it is not clear who would represent each at the hearing.

"Twitter engages with governments around the world on public policy issues of importance and of interest to policymakers", a Twitter spokesperson told Business Insider.

However, US intelligence agencies have concluded Moscow tried to sway the vote in favour of Mr Trump. "They don't deny they have allowed more anonymity".

However, Congressional investigators have said that the group is actually a Russian fabrication created to influence American voters during and after the presidential election. CNN has not seen the ad but the targeted was described by the sources.

The $100,000 allegedly spent by the Russian-backed operation on 3,000 ads connected to less than 500 accounts is miniscule in comparison to the almost $1 billion the Federal Election Commission says was spent on the United States election campaign.

Facebook Inc's (FB.O) CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday defended his company's role in U.S. elections and rejected assertions in a tweet from U.S. President Donald Trump that the social network was against him.

A post written by the social media giant's chief security officer Alex Stamos said the adverts were mostly focused on promoting disunity rather than attacking or promoting any particular candidates and around 25 per cent were geographically targeted.