Facebook to turn over Russia-linked ads

Social media giant is expected to meet with Congress Monday

Social media giant Facebook is expected to provide Congress on Monday with more than 3,000 ads that ran around the time of the 2016 presidential election and are linked to a Russian ad agency.

Company officials will meet with the House and Senate intelligence committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee to hand over the ads, a Facebook official said. The official requested anonymity because the meetings are private.

Facebook said last month that that it had found thousands of ads linked to Facebook accounts that likely operated out of Russia and pushed divisive social and political issues during the U.S. presidential election. The company said it found 450 accounts and about $100,000 was spent on the ads.

Twitter has said it found postings linked to those same accounts, and the House and Senate intelligence panels have asked both companies, along with Google, to testify publicly in the coming weeks.

None of the companies have said whether they will accept the invitations.

The three committees are investigating Russian meddling in the election and whether there are any links to President Donald Trump’s campaign. They have recently focused on the spread of false news stories and propaganda on social media, putting pressure on the companies to turn over more information and release any Russia-linked ads.

It is unclear whether the ads will eventually be released publicly. Several lawmakers — including Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence panel — have said they believe the American public should see them.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Sept. 21 that the company would provide the ads to Congress and also make changes to ensure the political ads on its platform are more transparent. The company is also working with special counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation into the Russian meddling.

“As a general rule, we are limited in what we can discuss publicly about law enforcement investigations, so we may not always be able to share our findings publicly,” Zuckerberg said. “But we support Congress in deciding how to best use this information to inform the public, and we expect the government to publish its findings when their investigation is complete.”

Facebook said the ads addressed social and political issues and ran in the United States between 2015 and 2017. The company said the ads appear to have come from accounts associated with a Russian entity called the Internet Research Agency.

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

Warner criticized Twitter for not sharing more information with Congress, saying the company’s findings were merely “derivative” of Facebook’s work. The company’s presentations to staff last week “showed an enormous lack of understanding from the Twitter team of how serious this issue is, the threat it poses to democratic institutions,” he said.

Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press

Just Posted

UPDATED: Gunfire erupts in quiet Langley neighbourhood early this morning

Police have 79A Avenue cordoned off after reports of shots just before 5 a.m.

PHOTOS: Langley City residents given audience with council and staff

Mayor and councillors share successes and plans, while listening to public at three City meetings.

Langley Spartans enjoy multiple wins and a tie Friday

First-year rookie puts five points on the scoreboard for Trinity Western’s Spartans.

Langley’s own Vancouver Giants fall in Prairies during overtime

G-Men fell 6-5 to the Brandon Wheat Kings Friday night.

Body located near Langley fire

A corpse was found near a mall off the Langley Bypass Friday morning.

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

WATCH: 10,000 signatures gained to stop ‘no pets’ rental policy

Pets OK BC said about 1,700 animals were surrendered to the BC SPCA last year due to housing issues

Silver Creek reacts after remains found, man arrested

Neighbours of property where remains were found say man arrested was sweet and polite

VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey and a celebrities attend ‘B.C. Miracle Concert’

Fundraiser featured Foster, Steven Tyler, The Tenors, Matteo Bocelli, Laura Bretan, Carly Rae Jepsen

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Holy Heritage Rail Batman: Superheros come to Cloverdale historic train

The Fraser Valley Heritage Rail is hosting its third annual Halloween rail adventure Oct 28, 29

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

Most Read