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Facebook’s Sandberg goes to DC to fend off Russian ad criticism

The social network’s No. 2 executive will visit the nation’s capital, as tech giants face the looming threat of regulation.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is headed to Washington, DC, this week.
James Martin/CNET

Facebook is bringing out some of its VIPs to deal with intense scrutiny in Washington, DC.

The social network is sending Sheryl Sandberg, its high-profile chief operating officer, to the nation's capital this week as the company deals with the controversy over ads bought by Russian agents meant to spread misinformation during the 2016 US election.

Sandberg's trip comes as Facebook prepares to testify on Nov. 1 at congressional hearings about foreign actors using social media to try to interfere with the election. Twitter and Google are also expected to testify.

One of Sandberg's stops will be a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus. The group last week sent a letter to Facebook and Twitter asking for more transparency around foreign threats and false news. "Members of Color, in particular, are additionally impacted by this issue, as the communities we represent are disproportionately strong consumers of social media, and additionally vulnerable to these attacks and misinformation," members of the CBC wrote.

Recode earlier Tuesday reported the news. CNET independently confirmed the meeting. Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Another of Sandberg's stops will be a public interview with Mike Allen, executive editor of the website Axios.

The move comes as Silicon Valley giants try to fend off the looming threat of regulation from lawmakers. Along with Facebook, both Twitter and Google have investigated potential Russian meddling on their platforms.

Facebook earlier this month handed over 3,000 ads from Russian-linked accounts to Congress. Twitter said last month it discovered 201 accounts that appear to be tied to the same Russian accounts that purchased ads on Facebook. Google is conducting its own internal investigation and reportedly found that Russians spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on YouTube, Gmail and Google search.

CNET's Terry Collins contributed to this report. 

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