Facebook will hand over 3,000 Russia-linked ads to Congress

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also vows to protect "election integrity," promising more transparency around political ads.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
3 min read

During a live broadcast on his Facebook page, Mark Zuckerberg outlined how the social network will try to protect elections.


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is digging more into the possible role his social network -- as well as covert Russian agents -- may have played in the 2016 US election.

The world's largest social network said Thursday it's handing over 3,000 Russia-linked ads to the Senate and House intelligence committees as investigators delve into what happened.

Earlier this month, Facebook disclosed it sold $100,000 worth of ads to inauthentic accounts likely linked to Russia during the election. Last week, the company said it's working with investigators as Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team examine alleged Russian meddling into the election.

"This has been a difficult decision. Disclosing content is not something we do lightly under any circumstances," Colin Stretch, Facebook's general counsel, said in a blog post. "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."

Facebook has been in the spotlight as it tries to grapple with its scale and influence. The social network faces continued criticism for its handling of false news spreading on the site, as well as accusations that Facebook adds to division in the country by splitting people up over their ideologies.

Watch this: Facebook turns over election ads linked to Russia

As part of the announcement, Zuckerberg also outlined ways Facebook would try to protect the integrity of elections. He said the company would be more transparent around political ads -- with added requirements like disclosures about who paid for them, as well as strengthening the review process around them.

"We are in a new world," Zuckerberg said during a live broadcast on his Facebook page. "It is a new challenge for internet communities to deal with nation states attempting to subvert elections."

He also said the company is doubling the number of workers on its team for "election integrity." Facebook will also add 250 people across all its teams working on safety and security.

Zuckerberg said Facebook is conducting its own investigation into Russian interference, as well as cooperating with investigators on the federal probe. The CEO also said Facebook has been working to make sure the upcoming German election has not been compromised. 

Zuckerberg's comments are a stark contrast from the stance he took days after the election. He said at the time it was a "pretty crazy idea" that fake news circulating on Facebook influenced the outcome.

Since then, Zuckerberg hasn't been shy about wading into political debate. For example, he sharply criticized President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration. He's also embarked on a tour of the US to meet people in rural areas, in what he's said is an attempt to understand the people in this country better. 

While he tried to offer up solutions on Thursday, he was quick to emphasize that Facebook won't be able to prevent all wrongdoing on its site. "There will always be bad people in the world, and we can't prevent all governments from all interference," Zuckerberg said. "But we can make it harder. We can make it a lot harder." 

I just went live a minute ago. Here’s what I said: Today is my first day back in the office after taking parental...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, September 21, 2017

First published Sept. 21, 1:12 p.m. PT. 
Update, 2:38 p.m. PT: Added Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook post that has a full transcript of his remarks. 

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