Date
23 October 2017
Sheryl Sandberg is shown in Washington after meeting with US lawmakers investigating alleged Russian interference during the 2016 election. Photo: Reuters
Sheryl Sandberg is shown in Washington after meeting with US lawmakers investigating alleged Russian interference during the 2016 election. Photo: Reuters

Facebook to help investigators release Russia ads

Facebook Inc. chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said on Thursday the company was committed to helping US congressional investigators publicly release Russia-backed political ads that ran during the 2016 US election, Reuters reports.

“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. “We told Congress and the intelligence committees that when they are ready to release the ads, we are ready to help them.”

Axios asked Sandberg what the world’s largest social network knew about the extent of Russia’s use of its platform and if ads on Facebook that had been placed by Russian accounts and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign had overlapped in terms of target audiences. She appeared to sidestep the questions and said only that targeting on Facebook was often very broad.

The interview was the first by a senior Facebook executive since the company disclosed last month that it had found some 3,000 politically divisive ads believed to have been bought by Russia before and after the presidential campaign. US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia used cyber-enabled means in an attempt to help Trump win the White House, an allegation the Kremlin has denied.

Sandberg was in Washington for meetings with US lawmakers.

Sandberg told the Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday that Facebook planned to add an African-American to its board of directors, a source familiar with the closed-door meeting said, but she offered no details. The board has been criticized for its lack of diversity.

She and two other Facebook executives, Erin Egan and Elliot Schrage, also met privately with Representative Jackie Speier, a California Democrat and member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Facebook and other major internet companies including Alphabet’s Google and Twitter are on the defensive as they try to limit fallout from a torrent of revelations about how Moscow sought to use their platforms to sow discord in the United States and influence the election.

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