Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Facebook ' fully committed' to sharing Russian ad data

Facebook ' fully committed' to sharing Russian ad data

The social media platform says that Russia-linked groups spent about $150,000 on political ads, including some promotions that mentioned either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton by name. The company and others have said they are turning over information, but also that they are legally obligated to protect their users' privacy. The ads included promoted events and amplified posts that show up in users' news feeds.

"We think it's important that (investigators) get the whole picture and explain that transparently to the American public", Sandberg said in an interview with the news site Axios that was streamed live.

The use of social media platforms was part of what US intelligence agencies have concluded was a broader Russian effort to meddle in the election campaign, an allegation the Kremlin has denied.

Sandberg and others from Facebook appeared before USA congressional panels looking into reports of Russian interference in the election. She said Facebook hopes to "set a new standard in transparency in advertising". While the company prohibits certain content such as hate speech, it does not want to prevent free expression, she said.

Facebook found the ads on its network and said they had appeared in the months preceding and following the election on November 8.

Sandberg said Facebook would provide additional material to investigators as needed to determine the level of foreign interference in the United States election.

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"So, Twitter took down the ad and put it back up", Sandberg said. "Not just an apology, but determination for our role in enabling Russian interference during the election", she said.

Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has backtracked from calling the idea of Facebook's influence on the election "pretty insane".

A member of Congress who viewed about 70 of the roughly 3,000 ads told The Associated Press that they were meant to stir up strong emotions on all sides. "In that ad, there's a lot of positions that people don't like, that I don't like".

Besides discussing election meddling, the members also pushed for Facebook to improve diversity in its workforce, particularly in its upper management.

"This is a very fragile moment in time for African-Americans across this country", CBC chairman Cedric Richmond said. Currently, Facebook's eight-member board of directors is all white and 75 per cent male. Two, including Sandberg, are women.

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