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Democrats plan to release 3,000+ Facebook ads linked to Russia

The world got a preview of ads Russian trolls were paying Facebook for last November. Now, House Democrats want to show all 3,000 of them.

Tech Company Reps Testify To House Select Intel Committee On Russian Social Media Influence During Election

The House Intelligence Committee showed some of the Facebook ads bought by Russians. The committee's Democrats intend on releasing all 3,000+ ads some time this week.

Alex Wong / Getty Images

House Democrats are ready to pull the curtain open on more than 3,000 Facebook ads bought by Russians that aimed to disrupt the 2016 US presidential election. 

"We have been in ongoing discussions with Facebook and hope to have the final redacted ads in our possession within a matter of days," Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, said in a statement. "As soon as we receive them, it is our intention to share them with the public." 

Facebook, Twitter and Google have been at the center of political turmoil as lawmakers reveal that Russian trolls effectively used the tech platforms to launch a concerted effort against democracy. Facebook alone found 470 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, a multi-million dollar Russian trolling operation. The IRA purchased 3,000 ads on Facebook, which were seen by 10 million people, according to Facebook. 

During Facebook's congressional hearing last November, lawmakers showed a preview of those ads, which focused on divisive social and political messages. Facebook promised in October it would help release all the ads. And now, Democrats on the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee say they intend on releasing them this week. 

Facebook pointed to its statements from last fall, and added that it's "up to Congress how/when that would be shared publicly." 

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Last October, Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg said the social network gave the "3,000+ ads" to US investigators. She added that Facebook is committed to helping the committee release the ads "in a way that protects peoples' privacy."

The released ads would show how much Russian trolls paid Facebook, how many people saw them, and which groups these ads were targeted to, according to The Wall Street Journal

The Russian-linked ads led to lawmakers proposing the Honest Ads Act, which would regulate how ads can be displayed and purchased on social networks. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he supports the ad regulation, which Twitter has also supported

Facebook isn't alone in its Russian-linked ad problem. Twitter discovered 201 accounts linked to the same Russian accounts that purchased ads on Facebook, and Russian operatives also spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads for YouTube, Gmail and Google search.

First published May 7 at 7:41 a.m. PT.
Update at 9:18 a.m. PT: Adds statement from Facebook.  

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