Facebook exec meets with lawmakers amid Russian Federation probe

12 October, 2017, 01:04 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Screen Shot 2017 10 05

A new report claims companies who advertise on social media platforms are growing nervous and may start to pull back their spending over fears of how and where their ads appear.

Facebook has faced strong criticism since revealing it sold $100,000 in ads to Russian "troll farms" who used them to cause political unrest and drive a wedge between Americans during the 2016 presidential election.

All three companies have been asked to testify publicly about Russian interference before both the House and Senate intelligence panels on November 1.

Microsoft is also looking at whether Russians bought U.S. election ads on its Bing search engine or other Microsoft-owned products and platforms and it might be Putin's advertising campaign might be greater than many first thought.

A study published on Monday by researchers with the Oxford Internet Institute, which is affiliated with the British university, found that current US military personnel and veterans were targeted by disinformation campaigns on Twitter and Facebook over the past year by a nexus of pro-Kremlin, Russian-oriented sites, along with conspiracy theorists and European right-wing ideologues.

The suspected Russian-linked ads focused on immigration issues, with one page called, "Secured Borders".

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Conaway, R-Texas, and the top Democrat on the panel, California Rep. Adam Schiff, met with Sandberg in the office of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

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. However, Twitter's analysis did not conclude whether RT's ad buys were related to attempts to influence the United States election. "We take the trust of the Facebook community seriously and want to be clear that we're taking immediate action".

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. Facebook has also declined to make the ads public.

Both men said that in the end, voters need to be more aware of the type of information they are seeking out.

But "my personal hope is we do this as quickly as we can", Conaway said.

Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have formed a coalition to press Facebook for action on racial issues, a congressional aide with knowledge of the discussions tells The Hill. It announced that numerous ads did not violate its policies.

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