Russia used fake Facebook accounts to try to access personal data on associates of candidate Emmanuel Macron during France’s 2017 presidential election, a report says.
Citing unnamed sources, Reuters reported a total of 12 bogus Facebook accounts were created, in the names of friends of members of the Macron camp, in a bid to spy on the election's eventual winner, the report said.
Reuters said it received the information from an unnamed U.S. congressman and two other people who were briefed on the matter.
Although Russia has continued to deny allegations of election meddling, U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed Russia’s involvement in a May conversation with Reuters. However, those intelligence officials could not verify that the Kremlin was behind the hacking.
Facebook employees became aware of spying during the first round of the French election, and the social networking company confirmed to Reuters the presence of bogus accounts in France that were subsequently deactivated and deleted. It is not believed the hackers were able to give away any personal information or download malicious software.
However, Macron campaign officials had content of their emails leaked online in the final days of the runoff portion of the election.
A unit of the Russian intelligence agency GRU -- the same group believed to be behind U.S. election meddling -- is believed responsible for the effort targeting Macron’s campaign, Reuters reported.
The news came as the U.S. House passed legislation Tuesday intended to crack down on Russia, as well as North Korea and Iran. The bill is expected to pass the Senate as well, and await President Trump’s signature.
According to the White House, Trump supports a plan to place sanctions on Russia, though that could interfere with his goal of achieving a better relationship with the country.