IT&Software

House intel committee will release Russian-funded Facebook ads

House intel committee will release Russian-funded Facebook ads

Facebook Inc Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said on Thursday the company was fully committed to helping U.S. congressional investigators publicly release Russia-backed political ads that ran during the 2016 United States election.

Meanwhile, Congress has started multiple investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, with lawmakers on both sides saying Russia meant to sow discord in the U.S., spread propaganda and sway the election to elect Donald Trump.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the panel's top Democrat, added that lawmakers have "asked for Facebook's help to help scrub any personally identifiable information, but it's our hope that when they conclude, then we can release them publicly".

Facebook had previously agreed to disclose the thousands of Facebook ads to congress. Sandberg said Thursday she thinks "it's important that [the investigators] get the whole picture and explain that to the American people".

Facebook had earlier turned over 3,000 Russian-linked ads to the intelligence committees but bristled at the notion of releasing them, citing the company's privacy policy.

The statement came on the heels of a white paper the social media company published in April where it outlined how "organized attempts" were made to misuse its platform.

"Things happened on our platform in this election that should not have happened, especially troubling foreign interference in a democratic election", Sandberg said. Twitter has since reversed its stance and reinstated Blackburn's ad.

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Schiff said Sandberg wanted to convey that the company is serious about the issue to members of Congress, some of whom have expressed concerns that the company was reluctant to share information and ensure that foreign governments don't wage information campaigns in US elections. Facebook, she said, does owe America an apology.

Sandberg acknowledged that the company had erred in how it handled the issue of foreign interference previous year.

Facebook said last month that the ads focused on divisive political messages, including LGBT issues, immigration and gun rights, and were seen by an estimated 10 million people.

He said Sandberg also indicated the company wants the help of the intelligence community to identify who may be using Facebook for those reasons.

She also criticized Twitter's decision this week to remove a campaign video from Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn, who is running for Senate in Tennessee.

In an interview with the news site Axios on Thursday, Sandberg said Facebook has the responsibility to prevent the kind of abuse that occurred on its service during the election.

All three companies have been asked to testify publicly about Russian interference before both the House and Senate intelligence panels on November 1.


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