Facebook Handed Russian-Linked Ads Over to Mueller Under Search Warrant

Facebook Handed Russian-Linked Ads Over to Mueller Under Search Warrant

Facebook has turned over to Russian Federation special counsel Robert Mueller more specific information about Moscow ad purchases than it did to congressional investigators last week, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

"Mueller clearly already has enough information on these accounts-and their link to a potential crime-to justify forcing [Facebook] to give up the info", former Federal Bureau of Investigation counterintelligence agent Asha Rangappa told Business Insider.

Facebook first admitted to the dealings with the pro-Kremlin interest under testimony to Congressional intelligence committees last week.

Now, Mueller's team has them as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election.

Alex Stamos, Facebook's Chief Security Officer, wrote in a blog post that most of the ads didn't focus on one candidate or the other, but "appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum - touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights".

Facebook gave Mueller and his team copies of ads and related information it discovered on its site linked to a Russian troll farm, as well as detailed information about the accounts that bought the ads and the way the ads were targeted at American Facebook users, a source with knowledge of the matter told CNN.


The ads could be an important component of Mueller's investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Russian Federation has denied any involvement in the election - and President Donald Trump slammed the Mueller probe as a "witch hunt".

The report said a Facebook spokesperson said the company was continuing to investigate and was cooperating with authorities, and that a spokesperson for Mueller declined to comment. Facebook didn't immediately respond to request for comment from Mashable.

To obtain a warrant, experts say Mueller would have needed to prove he has a reasonable suspicion a crime was committed.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti told BI's Natasha Bertrand that the warrant "may be the biggest news in the case since the Manafort raid" - referring to the pre-dawn FBI raid on the home of former Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

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