Facebook says estimated 10 million saw Russia-linked ads

  • Facebook says estimated 10 million saw Russia-linked ads

Facebook says estimated 10 million saw Russia-linked ads

Facebook's new policies will require advertisers to file a more thorough documentation if they wish to run U.S. federal election-related ads in the future.

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

It said most ads focused on "divisive social and political messages" on issues like immigration and gun rights.

The ad buyers spent just $100,000 over two years to target 10 million people, according to figures Facebook has provided about the ad buys. Last month, as well, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg conveyed the seriousness of Russian trolling activities, the Times relayed.

The materials would be turned over to the intelligence committees of the Senate and House of Representatives, and to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Facebook said.

Schrage said they were tailored to sow political divisions and to direct Facebook users to certain web pages promoting controversial matters. Additionally, it provided information on about 3,000 relevant ads to United States congressional investigators.

Had these measures been in place prior to the election, "we believe we would have caught these malicious actors faster and prevented more improper ads from running", Facebook Vice President of Policy and Communications Elliot Schrage wrote Monday in a blog post.

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

Improvements include making advertising more transparent, strengthening enforcement by bringing in 1,000 more people to its ads review team, introducing tighter restrictions on advertiser content, requiring more documentation from advertisers who want to run political ads, and establishing industry standards and best practices. CNN also reported that one campaign called "Blacktivist" used both Facebook and Twitter accounts in an attempt to incite outrage, especially over police shootings of African-Americans.

A spokesperson for the company said its internal investigation is not finished.

Schiff said he hopes to release a sampling of the ads at a public hearing with the firms.

Warner criticized Twitter for not sharing more information with Congress, saying the company's findings were merely "derivative" of Facebook's work. The group's Facebook page was adorned with adorable puppy memes and paid ads.

Twitter said last week that it had suspended 22 accounts corresponding to the 450 Facebook accounts that were likely operated out of Russian Federation.