Election Meddling: Facebook Confirms Russian Political Ads Reached 10 Million Americans

Election Meddling: Facebook Confirms Russian Political Ads Reached 10 Million Americans

Facebook is also working with Congressional investigators and special counsel Robert Mueller, as part of their probes of Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

"The 2016 USA election was the first where evidence has been widely reported that foreign actors sought to exploit the internet to influence voter behaviour", said Schrage.

"Most of the ads appear to focus on divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum, touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights", Schrage wrote.

Facebook says that it reviews millions of ads each week, and about 8 million people report them each day, meaning it can't catch every one that breaks the rules. Facebook's ads were turned over to the House and Senate intelligence committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

It's hard to say if this would have affected the result of the election, because the USA has a complicated democratic system not rooted in popular vote - but Facebook may have the data to make an educated guess as to its own impact.

It will allow anyone to view any political ads that run on the site, no matter whom they target, and also force political advertisers to reveal who is paying for the ads. Google, Twitter, and Facebook are anticipated to offer testimony during public House and Senate hearings this month and on November 1.

Timing: Facebook unveiled the information publicly shortly after it handed over the ads to Congress, likely getting ahead of any leaks.

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U.S. Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat, has likened digital political advertising to the "Wild, Wild West", and he and others have called for legislation to impose disclosure requirements similar to what is required in the United States for political ads on television.

On Monday, the world's biggest social platform announced plans to hire an additional 1000 employees to review ad submissions, along with other new policies and procedures created to improve the transparency of Facebook's advertising.

A spokesperson for the company said its internal investigation is not finished. He said he is committed to making all of these ads public "as soon as possible", while working with Facebook on privacy considerations.

Asked about Facebook giving Congress permission to release the ads, Burr said, "If they give us permission then they should release it themselves".

Twitter told lawmakers it found about 200 accounts Russian-linked accounts based on what Facebook had identified.

Twitter's decision to share that information with Congress followed a report by the US government's top intelligence agencies, which slammed RT in January as the "Kremlin's principal worldwide propaganda outlet".

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