Facebook widens probe into Russian influence on Brexit vote

Facebook has widened its investigation into possible Russian interference in the EU referendum.

The social media giant wrote to a committee of MPs on Wednesday agreeing to their request for more information about potential coordinated activity on its website around the Brexit vote in 2016.

The House of Commons' Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee is currently taking a wide look at the impact of "fake news" on websites and social media.

Tory MP Damian Collins, the committee's chair, last month criticised Facebook's previous work in investigating Russian influence on the EU referendum.

He even raised the possibility of sanctions for social media companies failing to police their websites.

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Facebook has so far claimed only three Russian-linked accounts were found to have bought adverts that may have influenced the Brexit referendum.

In a submission to the Electoral Commission, which is conducting a separate probe into EU referendum funding, Facebook said just 200 people in Britain saw the adverts, which cost a total of 72p.

But Mr Collins accused the company of doing "no work" other than looking at those accounts that had already been identified as part of the US Senate's investigation into Moscow interference in the US presidential election.

Mr Collins' committee released a letter from Facebook's UK policy director Simon Milner on Wednesday, in which the company promised to look further than the "cluster" of accounts connected to the American election.

Writing to Mr Collins, Mr Milner said: "You expressed a view that there may be other similar coordinated activity from Russia that we had not yet identified through our investigation and asked for use to continue our investigatory work.

"We have considered your request and can confirm that our investigatory team is now looking to see if we can identify other similar clusters engaged in coordinated activity around the Brexit referendum that was not identified previously."

Mr Collins welcomed Facebook's promise to expand their investigation and said he would "look forward to reviewing their findings".

The prominent Conservative MP has also previously criticised Twitter over its response to his committee's inquiry.