Facebook Releasing Thousands Of Russian Influence Ads To Congress
22 September 2017, 12:59 | Hattie Nash
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will hand over the contents of 3,000 advertisements purchased by Russian accounts during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The platform with 2 billion users announced earlier this month that pages linked to the former Soviet Union spent $50,000 buying political ads on issues such as immigration and gun rights.
The ads in question were purchased by fake accounts by the Internet Research Agency Firm in St. Petersburg, Russia. But after uncovering such activity recently, the company briefed Congress and turned information over to special counsel investigators.
Zuckerberg hinted that the company may not provide much information publicly, saying that the ongoing federal investigation will limit what he can reveal. In an appearance on ABC's "This Week" last Sunday, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said he was "distressed that it has taken us this long to be informed that the Russians had paid for at least $100,000 of ads created to try to influence our electoral process". It will require ads to disclose who paid for them and what other ads they are running at the same time. However, he said, you still don't know if you're seeing the same messages as everyone else.
Concerns about the role of political ads on Facebook have not been limited to the US. Facebook also came under fire for allowing advertisers to specifically target anti-Semites. He did not say how long ads will be considered "current" and remain available for view after their initial run.
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Facebook, he said, will strengthen its own ad review process for political ads.
"It has always been against our policies to use any of our tools in a way that break the law", Zuckerberg said. The company's chief says the company can do more, but did not outline how or to what extent, except to reiterate that it would happen "even without our employees involved in the sales".
"We believe the public deserves a full accounting of what happened in the 2016 election, and we've concluded that sharing the ads we've discovered, in a manner that is consistent with our obligations to protect user information, can help".
The company will hire 250 more people in the next year to work on "election integrity", Zuckerberg said. But critics say Facebook should go further.
"This is an extraordinary investigation - one that raises questions that go to the integrity of the US elections", Schrage wrote.
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