Facebook has issued a status that appears to suggest the social media platform may have been used by Russia-linked accounts to interfere in the Brexit vote.
Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s vice president of EMEA, addressed growing concerns that the Kremlin tried to influence Brits into voting to leave the European Union using social media propaganda on Monday.
Speaking on Sky News, she said: ‘To date, we have seen nothing to indicate that the known clusters that we saw in the US election did anything in relation to Brexit or the general election.’
But according to an investigation by Buzzfeed, a second official statement from the company appears to contradict that line.
It has led to speculation Russia-linked accounts may have used Facebook to interfere in the referendum.
A Facebook spokesperson said: ‘To date, we have not observed that the known, coordinated clusters in Russia engaged in significant coordination of ad buys or political misinformation, were targeting the Brexit vote.’
Contradictory to Ms Mendelsohn’s earlier words that were was no evidence Russia interfered in Brexit, the spokesperson said the official statement about ‘significant co-ordination’ was the one the company was standing by.
They did not clarify whether that meant there was some co-ordinated action – just not a significant amount – during last year’s referendum.
Hours earlier, Theresa May accused Russia of ‘meddling’ in recent elections and carrying out cyber espionage.
The prime minister used a major foreign policy speech in London to say Vladimir Putin’s government was trying to ‘undermine free societies’ by ‘planting fake stories’ to ‘sow discord in the West’.
Russia ‘is seeking to weaponise information’ she said.
‘I have a very simple message for Russia: We know what you are doing and you will not succeed, because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies, and the commitment of Western nations to the alliances that bind us.’
Her comments are in stark contrast to those of US President Donald Trump, who last week said he believed President Putin’s denial of intervening in the 2016 presidential election.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is due to visit Russia next month.
Metro.co.uk has approached Facebook for comment.