Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Tech | By Constance Martin

Sheryl Sandberg Says Facebook Supports Revealing Russia-Linked Ads

Sheryl Sandberg Says Facebook Supports Revealing Russia-Linked Ads

Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg will not say whether her company has identified similarities in how Russian agents and Donald Trump's presidential campaign used the social media platform ahead of the 2016 election.

Russia's election meddling is being investigated by multiple congressional panels as well as an independent Justice Department probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

But she went on to say that Facebook heard rumours around the time of the USA election about a potential influence campaign.

Sandberg said she supported the public release of those ads, and the pages they were connected to.

"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".

Wednesday's meetings are ahead of a November 1 House Intelligence Committee hearing at which Facebook, Twitter and Google are expected to testify.

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

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

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House lawmakers investigating Russia's suspected meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election are hoping to release copies of the 3,000 Facebook ads purchased by Kremlin-aligned agents and trolls.

Investigators have recently focused on the spread of false news stories and propaganda on social media and have pressured Facebook, along with Twitter and Google, to release any Russia-linked ads.

"What we really owe the American people is determination" to do "everything we can" to defend against threats and foreign interference, Sandberg said.

"We don't check the information posted on Facebook before people post it, and I don't think people should want us to", she said.

"I think we should seek to facilitate when the intelligence community identifies the Russians are using this platform in the same way that when the intelligence community finds that ISIS or Al Qaeda is using the platform for recruitment, there ought to be a dialogue through Federal Bureau of Investigation or DHS", he explained, per a transcript shared with Recode on Wednesday. Twitter took down the video, saying a remark Blackburn made about opposing abortion was inflammatory.

She said it is important to be cautious when going after fake news because "a lot of what we allow on Facebook is people expressing themselves" and "when you cut off speech for one person, you cut off speech for all people".

The Senate Intelligence Committee is also holding an open hearing with the three companies that day.

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