Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Industry | By Faith Ward

Sheryl Sandberg Says Facebook Supports Revealing Russia-Linked Ads

Sheryl Sandberg Says Facebook Supports Revealing Russia-Linked Ads

"We're a new kind of platform", she said, echoing Mark Zuckerberg's words verbatim from a December 2016 talk on Facebook Live.

Facebook has turned over the ads - and information on how they were targeted, such as by geography or to people with a certain political affiliation - to congressional investigators.

The live interview was the first by a senior Facebook executive since the company disclosed last month it had found some 3,000 politically divisive ads believed to have been bought by Russian Federation in the months before and after the presidential campaign.

A top Facebook executive says ads linked to Russian Federation trying to influence the USA presidential election should "absolutely" be released to the public, along with information on whom the ads were targeting. Sandberg told Axios: "When you cut off speech for one person, you cut off speech for other people".

In May 2016, a former Facebook employee said the employees curating the trending news section let their political bias influence the story rankings, discriminating against conservatives. Both panels plan to grill Facebook - as well as its peers, Google and Twitter - at back-to-back, public hearings on November 1. Facebook says these ads focused on divisive political issues, such as immigration and gun rights, in an apparent attempt to sow discord among the USA population.

Officials from Facebook and the committee did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sandberg made the trip to Washington inform United States lawmakers about progress in Facebook's internal investigation into the Russian adverts on the site. Sandberg is no stranger to Washington.

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Facebook, along with Twitter, alleges that its ads were purchased by a Kremlin-affiliated content farm known as the Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg.

Sandberg said Facebook didn't catch these ads earlier because it was focused on other threats, such as hacking.

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

"We don't check the information posted on Facebook before people post it, and I don't think people should want us to", she said.

Sandberg didn't say whether she believes Facebook played a role in electing Donald Trump as president, as critics have said it did by allowing the spread of fake news on its service.

Sandberg told the Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday that Facebook planned to add an African-American to its board of directors, a source familiar with the closed-door meeting said, but she offered no details.

In a letter to Facebook last month, Democratic Rep. Robin Kelly of IL, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and asked him to do more to strengthen controls against discriminatory ads.

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