Sheryl Sandberg to U.S. government: Release the Russian ads
Facebook wants U.S. lawmakers to let the public see ads linked to Russian accounts and promoted during the 2016 election — and they’re willing to explain the ad targeting too.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, shared her company’s willingness for transparency in an interview with Axios‘s Mike Allen on Thursday. It was the first public interview of a Facebook executive since the company revealed it had sold 3,000 ads linked to Russian accounts in September.
The House Intelligence Committee leaders said Wednesday they would release the ads shortly after they met with Sandberg, Politico reported. But it won’t just be the ad creative that’s revealed, some of which has already been released via reports from The Daily Beast. Facebook also wants the public to understand who these ads were shown to.
“When the ads get released, we will also be releasing the targeting for those ads,” Sandberg said Thursday.
Facebook revealed in October that about 10 million people could have seen the Russian-bought political ads. Despite Russian accounts also being discovered on Twitter, Google, and now even Pinterest, Facebook’s role has taken the spotlight. That’s in part because Trump’s campaign has said repeatedly how important Facebook was to them during the election.
On Thursday, Sandberg did not care to elaborate on whether the Russian ads and the Trump campaign were linked despite being asked by Allen on three separate occasions.
Sheryl Sandberg is refusing to answer the question on whether there was overlap in targeting between Russian accounts & the Trump campaign.
— Justin Hendrix (@justinhendrix) October 12, 2017
Of course, Facebook wishes these discoveries had all happened much sooner. Facebook came forward with the information in September and shared it with the FBI special investigation into the Russian hacking of the 2016 election led by Robert Mueller. The company later shared the documents with Congress after many requests by Sen. Mark Warner.
“We wish we had found it before it ever happened,” Sandberg said.
Facebook agreed earlier this month to testify to the Senate and to the House on Nov. 1. Twitter, which discovered 200 accounts linked to Russia, also will testify. Google has not said whether they will join.
Facebook did not say who will take the stand.