Facebook gives Russia-linked ads to Congress


WASHINGTON — Facebook announced Monday that it is planning more measures to increase transparency in advertising as the company provides Congress with more than 3,000 ads linked to a Russian ad agency.

Joel Kaplan, the company’s vice president of global policy, said in a blog post that Facebook is planning to hire more than 1,000 people to staff teams that review advertisements globally. Facebook will also update its policies to require better documentation from advertisers who want to run ads related to the U.S. election, including a requirement that the advertisers will have to confirm the business or organization they represent.

The moves come as the company is under pressure from multiple congressional committees that are investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Congress has recently focused on the spread of false news stories and propaganda on social media, putting pressure on Facebook and other social media companies to turn over more information and release any Russia-linked ads.

Facebook officials are turning over the ads they have discovered to the House and Senate intelligence committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday. The company already has given similar material to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian meddling.

Kaplan said in the post that all of the ads violated the company’s policies because they come from “inauthentic” accounts. He said the ads “run counter to Facebook’s mission of building community and everything we stand for.”

Facebook announced last month that it had discovered the ads, which were 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.

Kaplan said the company’s policies already prohibit “shocking” content, direct threats and the promotion of the sale or use of weapons, but that “going forward, we are expanding these policies to prevent ads that use even more subtle expressions of violence.”

Facebook plans also to strengthen enforcement against improper ads by boosting manual and automated review systems. In addition, the company will increase the requirements for documentation and share more information on bad actors with industry and government, according to Kaplan’s post.

Twitter has said it found postings linked to the same Facebook accounts, and the House and Senate intelligence…



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