Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

House Lawmakers Plan to Release Facebook Ads Bought by Russians

House Lawmakers Plan to Release Facebook Ads Bought by Russians

Amid growing revelations that the companies which many Americans rely on as news sources were exploited by a Russian disinformation campaign surrounding the USA presidential election, there's a new report that "Russian agents" spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on Google properties, such as its search engine, YouTube, Gmail and more. The social media giant, along with Twitter and Alphabet (Google), has been invited to testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees about Russian efforts to impact the election using social media on November 1.

Google has discovered Russia-back ads proliferated on its platforms during an effort to meddle in the 2016 USA presidential election.

Facebook, along with Twitter, alleges that its ads were purchased by a Kremlin-affiliated content farm known as the Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg.

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"We've asked for Facebook's help to help scrub any personally identifiable information", Schiff added, "but it's our hope that when they conclude that, then we can release them publicly".

Under fire for its response to Russian activity on its site before the presidential vote, Facebook last month agreed to hand over detailed information on thousands of Russian-backed ads to congressional investigators and said it would take steps to increase political transparency.

While Conaway and Schiff had previously expressed a desire to release the ads, Senate intelligence committee chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina said he did not want his committee to do so, arguing that any documents turned over to the committee were sensitive and should not be made public.

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Following a meeting with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, the leaders of the House Russia investigation - Reps.

Schiff said Sandberg wanted to calm members of Congress, who were initially concerned that the company was reluctant to share information and to ensure that foreign governments don't wage information campaigns in US elections. Facebook and Twitter have also said they uncovered politically divisive content emanating from Russian Federation. At the end of September, Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) penned a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking that the company "ensure that discriminatory and tactically divisive ad-targeting is aggressively prevented". It announced that numerous ads did not violate its policies.

Elliot Schrage, vice president of Policy and Communications at Facebook, said: "The threats we're confronting are bigger than any one company, or even any one industry". The member declined to be named because the ads aren't yet public.

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