Social networks said to provide data on energy market meddling

A Congressional committee seeks information on Russian entities buying anti-fracking ads.

Lamar Smith, chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, wants information about Russian entities buying ads on Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet to manipulate the US energy market.
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Facebook, Twitter and Google-parent Alphabet have reportedly agreed to supply Congress with information about Russian entities purchasing ads on their platforms to manipulate US energy markets.

Officials at the companies said they will forward the material "soon," Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, said Thursday in comments reported by Bloomberg. The committee is looking for evidence Russian entities purchased anti-fracking and anti-fossil fuel advertisements on the platforms, specifically Facebook-owned social media platform Instagram.

The committee's investigation comes amid intense scrutiny of Russian ad purchasing on the social networks, particularly as they pertain to Russian efforts to sow discontent during the 2016 US election. Facebook has said that about 126 million Americans were exposed to Russian-backed content on Facebook targeting highly politicized social issues such as immigration, guns and LGBT rights.

Smith's committee sent letters to the companies' CEOs in September seeking documents and communications on "any Russian based or foreign funded entity involvement in the US energy market detected on your social media platform," as well as information on the source of ads "advocating for so-called green initiatives."

Twitter declined to comment. Representatives for Facebook and Alphabet didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

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