House Intelligence Committee releases Russia-linked Facebook ads

Mark Zuckerberg Pledges to Invest in Preventing Abuse on Facebook

Facebook, in a series of disclosures over two months, has said that people in Russian Federation bought at least 3,000 US political ads and published another 80,000 Facebook posts that were seen by as many as 126 million Americans over two years.

Those posts came from 120 fake, Russia-backed Facebook pages, that through likes, shares, and follows reached 126 million people, or half of all eligible American voters.

The House Intelligence Committee released on Wednesday a small sample of the ads a Russian troll farm purchased on Facebook during and after the US presidential election.

King said Twitter, Google, Facebook, and the country needs to look forward and try and stop in the future.

During the hearings, Facebook downplayed the potential reach of ads bought by Russia's Internet Research Agency.

"We need to understand the behavior and we need to have the capacity both as a company and as an industry to be able to track it and eradicate it", the executive said.

"I don't think you get it", Feinstein said.

The illustration was just one of several examples of Russian propaganda on Facebook that was shared during multiple congressional hearings with tech executives this week. The bad news? Much of what was provided as evidence by the House Intelligence Committee on November 1 is not that far off from what we've come to expect from overzealous Americans on all sides of the political spectrum.




In a compelling opening, committee chair Richard Burr (R-N.C.) showed two Facebook groups created by Russians - one called "Heart of Texas" that peddled anti-immigrant messages and one called "United Muslims of America" that promoted Islamic pride. Mark Warner, the top-ranking Democrat on the committee, told the lawyers.

The company will provide more details on the business during a 2 p.m. PDT conference call with analysts.

The documents released by the House intelligence committee also underscore how targeted the ad campaigns were.

When pressed in a later exchange, however, Stretch could not say how many people at Facebook are focused primarily on addressing risks posed by state-sponsored operations.

That ad was targeted at people who had expressed an interest in Hillary Clinton or the Muslim Brotherhood on Facebook and who lived in Washington, DC. He noted that some who attended the events said they noticed that no one from the organizing group was there.

There is also proposed US legislation that would extend rules governing political ads on television, radio and satellite to also cover digital advertising. The companies have put new measures in place for election ads, though they have done less to address the issue ads that were found after 2016. Mobile ad revenue continued to grow, now at 88 percent of overall ad revenue, up from 84 percent a year ago.

Colin Stretch, Facebook's general counsel; Kent Walker, Google's general counsel; and Sean Edgett, Twitter's general counsel will all offer testimony and answer questions.

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