October 20, 2017

Facebook Exec Meets with Lawmakers Amid Russia Probe

13 October 2017, 01:14 | Hattie Nash

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Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg says Congress should 'absolutely' release Russia adverts

Sandberg said that Facebook is run by technical workers and engineers and according to her, the company does not produce news content, therefore it can't be a media company.

Meanwhile, on the Russian ad issue, Sandberg said the election meddling on the Facebook platform "shouldn't have happened" and she wouldn't discuss Russia or Trump.

Facebook handed over about 3,000 of the ads to congressional investigators after the company learned that some of the ads had been reportedly purchased by a Russian troll company to sow more divisions among Americans.

She said that she supports the public release of the ads - though she said Congress would have to do so - and when they are released, Facebook would explain to Congress the other details.

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 Russian Federation accounts.

Schiff said Sandberg wanted to convey that the company is serious about the issue to members of Congress, some of whom have expressed concerns that the company was reluctant to share information and ensure that foreign governments don't wage information campaigns in USA elections.

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Sandberg said the main thing they do allow on Facebook is to let people express themselves.

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

Wednesday's meetings are ahead of a November 1 House Intelligence Committee hearing at which Facebook, Twitter and Google are expected to testify.

Conaway and Schiff said after the meeting that they expect to eventually release the Facebook ads. But when we say that, we're not saying we don't have a responsibility.

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

"The thing about free expression is that when you allow free expression, you allow free expression", Sandberg said.

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Members of the Congressional Black Caucus meeting with Donald Trump in early 2017. Some members of the caucus have been critical of Facebook over the ads, many of which had racial themes.

"So, Twitter took down the ad and put it back up", Sandberg said. The member declined to be named because the ads aren't yet public. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg met with conservative groups in an effort to address their concerns.

"It is my belief that Facebook can not be the Trojan Horse through which America's vulnerabilities are exploited", Kelly wrote.

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

"We believe that other organizations that worked on the campaign have been asked to do the same", Cambridge Analytica said in a statement, adding that there was no "suggestion of wrongdoing".

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