Sheryl Sandberg Says Facebook Supports Revealing Russia-Linked Ads

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.   Drew Angerer  Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Drew Angerer Getty Images

Google's admission comes just a week after Facebook, the world's largest social network, revealed that a Russian internet agency previous year purchased around 3,000 targeted advertisements aimed at influencing the presidential election, which saw Republican Donald Trump defeat his Democratic rival Hilary Clinton.

Sandberg is meeting with elected officials in Washington this week ahead of a House hearing at which executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google are expected to testify.

As more facts continue to unfold regarding how external forces influenced last year's U.S. elections, Google has reportedly uncovered how Russia-linked accounts bought election ads on its network.

According to sources at Google, the ads on its various platforms, which include Gmail, YouTube and its Double Click ad network, were not purchased by the same Russian entity that bought the ads on Facebook.

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

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 US elections.

FILE PHOTO - Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg speaks during the opening of the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany September 14, 2017.

Russia's election meddling is being investigated by multiple congressional panels as well as an independent Justice Department probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

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But Sandberg acknowledged the company had erred in how it handled the issue of foreign interference a year ago. We're angry, we're upset.

"We don't check the information posted on Facebook before people post it, and I don't think people should want us to", she said.

Sandberg said it was important to protect "free expression" on Facebook and that if the Russian ads had been bought by legitimate accounts instead of fraudulent ones, many would have been allowed to run on the site. Twitter later reversed its decision.

Facebook has turned over the ads - and information on how they were targeted, such as by geography or to people with a certain political affiliation - to congressional investigators.

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.

"We're a new kind of platform", she said, echoing Mark Zuckerberg's words verbatim from a December 2016 talk on Facebook Live.

Representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter are expected to testify about Russian influence at hearings before the Senate and House intelligence committees on November 1.

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