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Facebook announces to share Russia-linked ads with US Congress

23 September 2017

But Warner and others have called for better transparency laws since Facebook acknowledged earlier this month that hundreds of phony Facebook accounts, likely run from Russian Federation, spent about $100,000 on ads aimed at stirring up divisive issues such as gun control and race relations during the 2016 campaign.

Facebook's Colin Stretch, the company's general counsel, said that after an extensive legal and policy review, today his outfit was going to share these ads with congressional investigators. The ads, which promoted social and political topics, ran in the United States between 2015 and 2017.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, who's now looking into President Donald Trump's possible ties with Russian Federation, already combed through more than 3,000 Facebook ads linked to Russian Federation.

For more information on Facebook's involvement in the alleged Russian election interference, read Facebook's post covering its decision to share the ads with Congress, its knowledge of the ads, and more.

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Zuckerberg also promised to make political advertising more transparent, not only by disclosing who paid for a particular ad, but also by making it easy to visit an advertiser's page to see the other ads that they are now running to other Facebook users.

The state of the investigation into whether Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 US presidential election may be heading into unsafe territory for some major news outlets with close ties to the giant state. "We don't check what people say before they say it, and frankly, I don't think our society shouldn't want us to", Zuckerberg said.

"That's not what we stand for", he said.

The issue is of scale, Facebook boasts more than two billion users and human moderation of all content is impossible.

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Towards the end of the 2016 elections, Facebook was accused of running Russian disinformation.

The US president made the comments a day after Facebook said it would provide Congressional investigators with the contents of those adverts, following weeks of scrutiny surrounding the social network's role in influencing elections. The company will add 250 employees to strengthen election-integrity initiatives, expanding its partnerships with election commissions worldwide and sharing information about existing threats to elections. It will also let Facebook users visit an advertiser's page and see what ads they're now running to any audience on Facebook.

James Freeman, assistant editor for the Wall Street Journal's editorial page, noted Thursday that it would be highly unlikely that these ads would swing the election. Federal regulations now require television and radio stations to make publicly available the details of political ads they air. And, of course, we also recognise and support the important work of government investigations and take care not to take steps, like public disclosures, that might undermine them.

"We will work with others to create a new standard for transparency in online political ads", Zuckerberg said. "We're going to make political advertising more transparent", he added.

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Facebook announces to share Russia-linked ads with US Congress