Facebook Surrenders Russian-Linked Influence Ads to Congress

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivering a keynote address

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivering a keynote

Facebook Inc outlined plans to strengthen its advertisement systems and disclosed that about 10 million people saw ads linked to Russian efforts to influence the 2016 USA presidential election.

Russian influence during the 2016 election could be a turning point for the U.S. congress. Democrats wrote to the Federal Election Committee last month with a plea to regulate online political advertising through social media, eyeing potential for misinformation in the 2018 midterm elections. For repeatedly refusing to acknowledge the social network's role in putting Donald Trump in the White House and even allowing Russian Federation to purchase ads to spread fake news, the billionaire is asking for forgiveness.

Though Facebook traced almost 500 pages and accounts that bought the ads for around $100,000 (£745,744) back to Russia, Moscow has denied any involvement.

Had these measures been in place prior to the election, "we believe we would have caught these malicious actors faster and prevented more improper ads from running", Facebook vice-president of policy and communications Elliot Schrage wrote Monday in a blog post.

Schrage acknowledged it was "possible" that there were more Russian-bought political ads on the network that Facebook has yet to identify.

Facebook is increasing authenticity requirements for advertisers, adding over 1000 people to its ad review staff after claiming it found paid postings on "divisive" social issues that "appeared" to stem from a Russian entity. Specifically, whether the new employees would be contracted workers, whether they'd be full or part-time employees and where they'd be employed, but a Facebook spokesperson said there was no further information at this time.

Schrage, while criticizing the ad buyers for using fake accounts, also said numerous ads otherwise "did not violate our content policies" and could have remained if bought using real accounts.

Facebook said its efforts intend to make it more hard in the future for divisive or counterfeit advertising to circulate, particularly during an election campaign.

Facebook has pledged to improve its ad system by being more transparent.

Facebook said Sunday that it would deliver to US lawmakers copies of the roughly 3,000 Russian-linked ads.

"Enforcement is never flawless, but we will get better at finding and removing improper ads", he said.

The move by Facebook is a departure from its standard practice, in which Facebook users can only see ads and posts that the company's software algorithm targets directly to them.

Facebook also plans to hire 1,000 people for its global ad review team over the next year, according to TechCrunch.

Senate intelligence chairman Richard Burr said Monday he won't be the one who makes the Russian-linked Facebook election ads public.

For 99 percent of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent, he said.

Facebook will now require every group that runs political ads on the social network to publicly post copies of all the ads they have purchased.

The ads are being sent to congressional investigators today, Kaplan added in the post.

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