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Facebook will help investigators release Russian Federation ads, Sandberg tells Axios

13 October 2017
Facebook will help investigators release Russian Federation ads, Sandberg tells Axios

The House Intelligence Committee said on Wednesday that it is ready to release a trove Russian-linked Facebook ads from the 2016 election season shortly after meeting with one of the company's top executives.

Meanwhile, Congress has started multiple investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, with lawmakers on both sides saying Russia meant to sow discord in the U.S., spread propaganda and sway the election to elect Donald Trump.

Sandberg said Facebook wanted other internet companies to work toward making ad purchases more transparent, and she said Facebook was talking with lawmakers who want to introduce legislation on the issue.

In addition to the ads, Facebook will be handing over the pages they link to and supporting targeting data to Congress, Sandberg told Allen.

"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".

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom government has suggested regulating Facebook and Google as media companies and publishers, which would make them legally responsible for the content posted on their platforms.

"Things happened on our platform in this election that should not have happened", Sandberg said during an interview in Washington with the Axios news website.

Sandberg is meeting with elected officials in Washington this week ahead of a House hearing at which executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google are expected to testify. Information about how the ads were targeted toward specific kinds of users would also be released, she said.

The move comes as critics and lawmakers are increasingly calling for the regulation of Facebook and other internet giants.

Sandberg said, according to Schiff, that Facebook is "determined to take whatever steps are necessary to ferret out foreign actors creating fake identities and using their platform".

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

"When you allow free expression, you allow free expression", she said.

She criticized Twitter's decision this week to remove a campaign video from Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee.

After Congressional pressure, Facebook handed over the over 3,000 ads, which 10 million people saw.

The Facebook COO dodged several questions during the Axios interview, including one on whether or not Facebook owed the American people an apology.

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.