Facebook Turns Ads Linked With Russian Interference In US Elections Over To Congress

Facebook has surrendered various ads linked to Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections over to Congress. The social media platform, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is believed to have been used as a tool to influence the electoral race that saw Donald Trump emerge as president last year.

Last month, the company revealed that over 3,000 such ads had been sold, and on Monday turned them over to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating the seemingly suspicious circumstances surrounding the elections.

Facebook had previously shown the ads to investigators but did not agree to hand possession before being met with adamant requests to do so by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s Vice President for Global Public Policy, published a statement on Monday via the website’s newsroom, confirming their turning over of said ads, many of which were described as “amplifying racial and social divisions.”

“We found more than 3,000 of these ads, which ran between 2015 and 2017,” he said.

“Many appear to amplify racial and social divisions. Today we are delivering those ads to congressional investigators and explaining more about the steps we’re taking to strengthen our ads policies and enforcement.”

Kaplan also insisted that all of the ads had violated Facebook policies as they weren’t from authentic user accounts and expressed the company’s willingness to assist Congress in their investigations.

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As a result of these developments, the VP indicated that the social media giants will be putting new updates in place to help prevent such from ever reoccurring. He outlined advertising transparency, stronger enforcement regarding improper ads, and increasing requirements for authenticity, among other sanctions.

Facebook will hire 1,000 new members of staff to thoroughly review ads in attempts to ensure that all standards are met by users. The company already uses both manual and automated procedures to vet ads, but in an effort to successfully combat a repeat of what they believe took place on their platform, will tighten things all around.

Currently, Facebook prohibits ads depicting violence, threats or the use of weapons. But they plan to restrict any suggestions of violence, no matter how tenuous, in ads moving forward.

Kaplan also urged governments and industry leaders worldwide to make things easier for everyone by sharing information on persons known to engage in unseemly behavior in order to keep them off all social media platforms.

In his statement, he also admitted that it is impossible to perfectly enforce sanctions, but promised that Facebook would improve their methods of discovering bad ads.

“We care deeply about the integrity of elections around the world,” Kaplan added. “We take responsibility for what happens on our platform and we will do everything we can to keep our community safe from interference.”

[Featured image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]