Facebook Says It Will Release Russian Election Ads to Congress

Todd Singleton
September 22, 2017

Facebook has agreed to disclose ads to Congress that were purchased by Russians on the social media platform in that country's effort to influence the 2016 election, the company announced Thursday.

The comments were a marked shift for the Facebook founder, who days after the November 2016 US election said it was a "crazy idea" to think that misinformation on Facebook swayed the vote toward President Donald Trump. The company said then that it had traced ads back to a ring of of 470 accounts with suspected links to Russian Federation.

"We've been investigating this for many months now, and for a while, we had found no evidence of fake accounts linked to Russian Federation running ads". "When we recently uncovered this activity, we provided that information to the special council". "We also reduce the visibility of potentially spammy Tweets or accounts while we investigate whether a policy violation has occurred".

In one change, Facebook will make it possible for anyone to see any political ad that runs on Facebook, no matter whom it targets.

"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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"We're looking to foreign actors, including additional Russian groups and other former Soviet states as well as other organizations like the campaigns to further our understanding of how they used our tools", he said.

"We are in a new world", Zuckerberg said during a live broadcast on his Facebook page. He did not say how long ads will be considered "current" and remain available for view after their initial run. "That's not what we stand for", Zuckerberg said in a video statement. That's what happened here.

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". While the ads didn't specifically reference the election, a candidate or voting, they nevertheless allowed "divisive messages" to be amplified via the social media platform, the company's chief security officer, Alex Stamos, said in a statement September 7.

"This has been a hard decision", Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch wrote in a post on Facebook's corporate news page, adding: "Disclosing content is not something we do lightly under any circumstances".

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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