Facebook's Sandberg favours release of Russia-linked ads

Posted October 13, 2017

According to the Washington Post, the tech giant found that Russian operatives spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on YouTube, Gmail, the Google search engine and other products.

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.

Google has reportedly discovered evidence that Russian Federation used its platforms in a bid to influence the 2016 United States presidential election.

The meeting came ahead of a November 1 House Intelligence Committee hearing at which Facebook, Twitter and Google are expected to testify.

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

Sandberg was also asked about female leadership in the workplace, to which she said, "The world is still run by men".

Asked if Facebook contributed to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's defeat a year ago, Sandberg, an open Clinton supporter during the campaign, did not answer directly but said it was important the website was "free from abuse" during any election in any country.

The question of overlap is of potential significance for special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional investigators as they look for evidence of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. Trump has denied that there was any collusion between his campaign and associates and Russian Federation. Sandberg instead opted to say that whenever the platform was misused, "we're angry, we're upset".

Sandberg said, according to Schiff, that Facebook is "determined to take whatever steps are necessary to ferret out foreign actors creating fake identities and using their platform".

"I think we should seek to facilitate when the intelligence community identifies the Russians are using this platform in the same way that when the intelligence community finds that ISIS or Al Qaeda is using the platform for recruitment, there ought to be a dialogue through Federal Bureau of Investigation or DHS", he explained, per a transcript shared with Recode on Wednesday.

Facebook said last month that the ads focused on divisive political messages, including LGBT issues, immigration and gun rights, and were seen by an estimated 10 million people.

She criticized Twitter's decision this week to remove a campaign video from Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee.

Sandberg's comments come a day after the outgoing boss of the UK's media regulator, Dame Patricia Hodgson, said both Google and Facebook were publishers in her view. She said the company had been too permissive at times in terms of how advertisers are allowed to target users, and that Facebook did not want to allow ads that may be "discriminatory".