Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company will share information with Congress about suspected Russian-linked election ads.
It was during last September that Facebook found Russian-linked election ads after an investigation into the 2016 U.S. election. It found that around $100,000 in ad spending from June 2015 to May 2017 was associated with roughly 3,000 ads believed to be from Russian profiles. The ads had been shared with a special counsel investigating the Russian influence in the election.
“After an extensive legal and policy review, we’ve concluded that sharing the ads we’ve discovered with Congress, in a manner that is consistent with our obligations to protect user information, will help government authorities complete the vitally important work of assessing what happened in the 2016 election,” Facebook said on its blog.
“We want to do our part,” the company said, adding, “Congress is best placed to use the information we and others provide.”
Zuckerberg also mentioned that his staff is on it, Thursday morning to provide those ads to Congress as well. Facebook has already consulted it with the congressional leaders to agree on a process of handing over the ads.
“We are committed to rising to the occasion. Our sophistication in handling these threats is growing and improving quickly,” Zuckerberg said. “We will continue working with the government to understand the full extent of Russian interference.”
Pressure on Facebook has grown over time.
Some congressional investigators saw Russian activity on Facebook as key to understanding the extent of Moscow’s influence on the election. Federal Election Commission member Ellen Weintraub called for an overhaul of disclaimer rules around political advertisements on the Internet earlier this month.
“So we’re going to bring Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency,” Zuckerberg said. “Not only will you have to disclose which page paid for an ad, but we will also make it so you can visit an advertiser’s page and see the ads they’re currently running to any audience on Facebook.”
Following Zuckerberg’s announcement on Thursday, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called it an “important and absolutely necessary first step.”
“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.”