13 October, 2017
A month ago, Facebook revealed that a Russian group bought $100,000 worth of ads on the social network in an apparent effort to influence the 2016 US Presidential election. Recall that Facebook also made a similar claim about how ads were bought by Russian operatives to influence the last USA election.
One of Facebook's top executives met Wednesday with House members investigating the company's Russia-linked ads and told them the social media giant is serious about dealing with the issue.
"Things happened on our platform in this election that should not have happened, especially troubling foreign interference in a democratic election", Sandberg said.
According to sources at Google, the ads on its various platforms, which include Gmail, YouTube and its Double Click ad network, were not purchased by the same Russian entity that bought the ads on Facebook. Facebook says these ads focused on divisive political issues, such as immigration and gun rights, in an apparent attempt to sow discord among the US population.
"We know we have a responsibility to prevent everything we can from this happening on our platforms", Sandberg said, "and so we told Congress and the intelligence committees that when they are ready to release the ads, we are ready to help them".
U.S. congressional and state elections set for November 2018 present a deadline of sorts for Facebook and other social media companies to get better at halting the kind of election meddling that the USA accuses Russian Federation of.
Sandberg made the trip to Washington D.C.to inform United States lawmakers about progress in Facebook's internal investigation into the Russian adverts on the site.
Officials from Facebook and the committee did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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Sandberg acknowledged that the company had erred in how it handled the issue of foreign interference a year ago.
"We don't want this kind of foreign interference" on Facebook, Sandberg added.
"We take reports of misuse of our platform seriously".
"The thing about free expression is that when you allow free expression, you allow free expression", Sandberg said.
She also criticized Twitter's decision this week to remove a campaign video from Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn, who is running for Senate in Tennessee.
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. "But the question is, 'Should divisive political or issue ads run?' Our answer is yes because when you cut off speech for one person you cut off speech for all people", she said.
Representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter are expected to testify about Russian influence at hearings before the Senate and House intelligence committees on November 1.