Facebook on Wednesday said it had found evidence that fake accounts "likely operated out of Russia" purchased thousands of ads during the US presidential election designed to amplify divisive political messages.

Facebook said the ads were part of elaborate "information operations" in which "organized actors," including governments, used social media to deceive the public and distort political sentiment.

A sharp turnaround

Facebook said Wednesday that its analysis of ads purchased before and after the US presidential election were consistent with the information operation tactics it had previously outlined. About one-quarter of the ads were geographically targeted, and most touched on divisive topics, from LGBT rights to immigration and gun rights, the company said.