Google Finds Russian-Linked Ads on Gmail, YouTube and More

Facebook to tighten regulations around political advertising

The leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee's Russian Federation investigation said Wednesday they intend to publicly release thousands of politically divisive Facebook ads purchased by Russian Federation during last year's presidential election.

Axios reported an email sent to Facebook advertisers said that ads that are targeted to people based on "politics, religion, ethnicity or social issues" are now to be manually reviewed before they are set live.

The House intelligence committee will release copies of the election-related Facebook ads that were purchased by Russian-linked accounts, the committee leaders said Wednesday.

Including this "human review" of advertising on Facebook is a clear step by the company to deal with the widespread problem of fake news and propaganda advertisements, not least the apparent involvement of the Russian internet agency in creating ads during the last U.S. election. Facebook tied the ads to a St Petersburg outfit called the Internet Research Agency, a firm which Buzzfeed and Russian sources have described as at least partially a front employing pro-Kremlin comment trolls. In September, the social network said it found $100,000 worth of spending on divisive political ads on its platform by hundreds of Russian-linked fake accounts and pages during a period that included the 2016 presidential election.

Representatives from all three internet companies are expected to appear before an open Senate Intelligence Committee on November 1, as evidence continues to mount that their platforms were manipulated with the aim of steering Trump towards winning the presidency.

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Schiff said Sandberg wanted to calm members of Congress, who were initially concerned that the company was reluctant to share information and to ensure that foreign governments don't wage information campaigns in US elections.

Schiff took a stand, however, saying that even "beyond the Russian investigation", people engaged in political advertising on Facebook and other online platforms should be required to include disclaimers that identify who pays for the ads. Google is continuing to examine its own records and also is sharing data with Facebook.

Both men said that in the end, voters need to be more aware of the type of information they are seeking out.

Elliot Schrage, vice president of Policy and Communications at Facebook, said: "The threats we're confronting are bigger than any one company, or even any one industry". She is scheduled to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday. The member declined to be named because the ads aren't yet public.

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