Facebook to reveal ads purchased by Russians to influence election

Facebook Thursday afternoon said it will provide detailed information about thousands of ads placed by Russian operatives on the social network to Congressional investigators, as part of their probe of Russia's interference in the 2016 Presidential election.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that while his company is cooperating with the Russian Federation investigation, no one should expect it to intercept all undesirable material before it hits its social network.

The move is an about-face for Facebook, which earlier this month said it had given the ads and other information to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is conducting a criminal investigation of possible links between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

In addition to the 470 accounts that appeared to be run from Russia, Stamos said its investigators also discovered an additional $50,000 in spending via 2,200 ads that "might have originated in Russia", even including ads purchased by accounts with IP addresses in the USA but set to Russian in the language settings.

Facebook said earlier this month that accounts likely tied to Russian Federation had bought ads to boost their reach on the platform before last year's presidential election.

"As we continue our investigation to get to the bottom of Russia's multifaceted attack on our democratic process", he said, "I believe it will be necessary to hear directly from Facebook, Google and Twitter, as well as others in the tech sector, including in open hearings that will inform the American public".

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Critics have argued that Facebook needs to tell the public and Congress more about exactly what the ads involved said, where they ran and to whom they were targeted.

Zuckerberg said that Facebook is working to ensure the integrity of the upcoming German elections.

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". "Not only will you have to disclose which page paid for an ad, but we'll also make it so you can visit an advertiser's page and see what ads they're now running to any audience on Facebook". "That's not what we stand for", Zuckerberg said in a video statement.

Zuckerberg said the company won't be able to catch all content in its system, since "we don't check what people say before they say it", but that users breaking community standards or the law will "face consequences afterward".

Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch shared additional details about the decision in a blog post that went up as Zuckerberg spoke.


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