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Facebook supports full disclosure on Russia-backed ads: Sheryl Sandberg

13 October 2017

Facebook Inc. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said on Thursday the company was fully committed to helping USA congressional investigators publicly release Russia-backed political ads that ran during the 2016 US election.

Sandberg says Facebook started looking into Russian ads around election day as reports of Russian attempts to influence the election intensified.

Facebook has turned over the ads - and information on how they were targeted, such as by geography or to people with a certain political affiliation - to congressional investigators.

Sandberg said Facebook would provide additional material to investigators as needed to determine the level of foreign interference in the United States election.

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

"We'll continue to provide information".

Still, Sandberg said it was important to protect "free expression" on the world's largest social network. While the company prohibits certain content such as hate speech, it does not want to prevent free expression, she said.

Sandberg said Facebook didn't catch these ads earlier because it was focused on other threats, such as hacking.

Facebook also agreed to hire additional staff to help screen potentially illegal political ads.

In an interview with Axios, the social network's COO Sheryl Sandberg said Facebook has "an enormous responsibility here", and thinks it's vital the government finds out what really happened and explains it to the American public.

According to Facebook, some 10 million people may have viewed the ads placed by a Russian entity that appeared aimed at sowing division and mistrust.

She also said, the site had taken steps to stop those behind the fake accounts profiting from the ads they put on Facebook.

Facebook found roughly 3,000 ads paid for by Russian operatives related to the 2016 campaign. Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat who chairs the caucus, said Sandberg promised to appoint an African-American to the board, a move the caucus and other activists have been pushing for years. Two, including Sandberg, are women.

Facebook supports full disclosure on Russia-backed ads: Sheryl Sandberg