Sheryl Sandberg Says Facebook Will Reveal How Russia Targeted Voters

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Source:   —  October 12, 2017, at 12:44 PM

The action means that Facebook may be able to assistance clarify to Congress which groups of people and geographic areas were the targets of the Russian ads, and who precisely paid for them.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook'south chief operating officer, said Thursday that the social network would reveal how Russia-linked groups targeted Americans with ads that were designed to disrupt the two thousand sixteen presidential election and tip it to Donald Trump.

The action means that Facebook may be able to assistance clarify to Congress which groups of people and geographic areas were the targets of the Russian ads, and who precisely paid for them. The company has already turned over about 3.000 ads that ran on its platform to congressional investigators, but they've not yet been made public.

Sandberg, in a live-streamed conversation with Mike Allen, the executive editor of Axios, at the Newseum in Washington, was pointedly asked if there was an overlap between Trump’s campaign and the Russia accounts.

Sandberg responded by explaining how businesses target customers and didn’t specifically address the question, forcing Allen to ask again, “You don’t know or you won’t tell me?”

She said that she supports the public release of the ads — though she said Congress would've to do so — and when they're released, Facebook would clarify to Congress the other details.

“When the ads obtain released, we'll release the targeting for those ads,” Sandberg said. “Again, we're going to be fully transparent.”

Sandberg began the discussion by acknowledging that "things happened on our platform in this election that shouldn't have happened — particularly very troubling, foreign interference into a Democratic election."

"We've a responsibility to do everything we can to prevent this kind of abuse," she said.

A key question for three separate investigations into how Russia influenced the latest election is how the ad buyers knew with such specificity where to space their ad buys, and whether they worked with any political campaigns to do the targeting.

Trump won by a thinly edge in Michigan, WI and Pennsylvania, putting him over the top in the Electoral College. Russia-linked ads targeted all three states, as well as others, according to a CNN report.

In response to another question, Sandberg refused to characterize Facebook as a media company, a designation that'd require it to submit to a different kind of valid framework that governs the identification of political ads on TV or the common expectation that content is fact-based and free from hoaxes.

While Facebook is a distributor of both video and text to some two billion people around the world, Sandberg reiterated: “We are a tech company. We don’t hire reporters. But we’re not saying we don’t have a responsibility.”

On Sunday, the Trump campaign'south digital director, Brad Parscale, bragged to CBS News about how he used Facebook.

“I understood early that Facebook was how Donald Trump was going to win,” he told "sixty Minutes." He revealed that Facebook had embedded staff in the Trump campaign to assistance them utilize the targeting.

Parscale revealed the campaign made hundreds of thousands of ads, changing speech and colors to best appeal to individuals.

The Trump campaign used Cambridge Analytica, a firm backed by Trump supporter Robert Mercer, which blended its own database of information on American voters with Facebook to discover swing voters or discourage people from voting at all.

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