Facebook announced that they will be turning over 3,000 Russian-linked ads to United States congressional committees, who are currently investigating Russia’s influence on the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The ads were believed to be purchased by Russian-linked accounts and used on Facebook in order to sway voter opinion during the election, according to The New York Times.
This event comes in the wake of Facebook admitting earlier this month that Russian agencies covertly purchased over $100,000 worth of ads that were focused on divisive social issues such as gay rights, gun control and race during the time of the election.
Facebook was reluctant to release the ads at first, but due to growing pressure over the last couple weeks from Congress and the public, the company decided that it was time to hand them over.
Mark Zuckerberg. the CEO of Facebook, made the announcement on Thursday via Facebook Live, along with a text post of what he said during that live stream afterwards.
Zuckerberg made a point to say, “I care deeply about the democratic process and protecting its integrity.” He continued, “I don’t want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy. That’s not what we stand for.”
Zuckerberg then went on to list nine steps Facebook will be using in the future to protect election integrity, which included things like working with the U.S. in the Russian investigation, strengthening the ad review process for political ads before they are released, increasing investment in security and making political advertising more transparent.
In terms of the step regarding transparency, Facebook will now include, with its political advertisements, which organization or individual paid for the ad and all the other ad campaigns that organization or individual is running on the site. This is a drastic change, because most of Facebook’s ad system has remained relatively secret in the past.
As for Russia, Dmitri Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, responded to the recent situation regarding the Facebook ads, claiming, “We do not know how to place an advert on Facebook. We have never done this, and the Russian side has never been involved in it.”
This whole situation has brought up the possibility of the regulating of political advertising on social media platforms in the future. Congressional Democrats asked the Federal Election Commission last week to advise on different ways to prevent illegal foreign influence on elections through social media, including the idea of possible new laws or regulations that could be made in the future.
Editor’s Note: Information from the New York Times, Reuters and ABC News was used in this report.
Facebook turns ads over to Congress |by Connor O’Brien was originally published in The Carroll News on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.