Zuckerberg agrees to hand Russia-linked Facebook ads to Congress

News of the decision came with word that Facebook is cracking down on efforts to use the leading social network to meddle with elections in the US or elsewhere.

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“It is a new challenge with internet communities having to deal with nation states trying to subvert elections,” Zuckerberg said in a live video presentation streamed on his Facebook page.

Zuckerberg announced a series of steps that would help prevent the manipulation of the social network including more transparency on political ads appearing on Facebook.

“We’re going to bring Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency,” he said.

“Not only will you have to disclose which page paid for an ad, but we will also make it so you can visit an advertiser’s page and see the ads they’re currently running to any audience on Facebook.”

Facebook earlier this month agreed to hand over information about the ads from Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the 2016 election and on Thursday decided to turn over the information to congressional investigators.

“We believe it is vitally important that government authorities have the information they need to deliver to the public a full assessment of what happened in the 2016 election,” Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch said in a blog post.

An internal Facebook review showed that Russia-linked fake accounts were used to buy ads aimed at exacerbating political clashes ahead of and following the 2016 US presidential election.

Some 470 accounts spent a total of approximately $100,000 between June 2015 to May 2017 on ads that touted fake or misleading news or drove traffic to pages with such messages, a Facebook official said.

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While the amount of money involved was relatively small, enough to buy roughly 3,000 ads, the accounts or pages violated Facebook policies and were shut down, according to Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos.

Most of the ads run by the accounts didn’t directly reference the US presidential election, voting, or particular candidates but instead appeared focused on “amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum,” according to Stamos.