Sunday, 17 December, 2017

Facebook has "an enormous responsibility" for Russian interference in U.S. election

Facebook has Facebook has "an enormous responsibility" for Russian interference in U.S. election
Melinda Barton | 13 October, 2017, 20:36

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

Congressional sources said this week that Facebook Inc (FB.O) has been slow to cooperate.

"We gave them so far the ads plus the pages they linked to", said Sandberg, who is Facebook's chief operating officer.

Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer at Facebook, made the comments during her first public interview since Facebook announced that it had found Russia-linked accounts that bought ads during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

This is an ongoing investigation, the new information will be posted as being reported. The accounts created to fund the ads and the ads themselves have now been removed, however.

"When you allow free expression, you allow free expression", Sandberg said in an interview with Axios. Facebook says these ads focused on divisive political issues, such as immigration and gun rights, in an apparent attempt to sow discord among the US population.

Later Thursday, Sandberg met privately with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, where she was pressed on what the company is doing in response to its discovery that numerous ads pushed by Russian-linked accounts were aimed at sowing racial discord. "In fact we're a new kind of platform... as our size grows, we think we have more responsibility", the executive was quoted as saying.

A Twitter spokesperson did not respond to an email requesting comment. Mr Schiff noted that it is unlikely that the ads will be released before tech executives testify before Congress in November.

Congress has been investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 campaign, including whether the Trump campaign colluded with the country to win the election.

Last month, Facebook agreed to hand over the ads to congressional investigators in addition to special counsel Robert Mueller.

In September, Facebook disclosed that it had evidence that an operation based in Russian Federation had spent $100,000 on thousands of sponsored posts promoting divisive social and political messages in a two-year period through May 2017.

Sandberg's meeting with the caucus was just the latest stop in an apology tour launched after Facebook faced harsh criticism for denying, back tracking, then finally admitting the key role it played in Russia's disinformation campaign. USA officials have called it a "troll factory" that creates false identities or copies real ones to spread real, skewed, and fake information for the Kremlin. While the company prohibits certain content such as hate speech, it does not want to prevent free expression, she said.

They said Facebook lawyers have argued that turning over additional data could compromise its promise of privacy to its users. If the Russian ads had been bought by legitimate accounts instead of fraudulent ones, many of them would have been allowed to run on the site, she said.