Facebook doesn't hire journalists: Sheryl Sandberg

Exclusive: Russian-linked Facebook ads targeted Michigan and Wisconsin

Exclusive: Russian-linked Facebook ads targeted Michigan and Wisconsin

Facebook has admitted it shouldn't have allowed fake Russian accounts to fund ads supporting Trump in the U.S. election and will do everything in its power to help authorities get to the bottom of the alleged election interference campaign.

Sheryl Sandberg [pictured here, inset], Facebook's chief operating officer, told lawmakers behind closed doors that the company is working hard to ensure Americans "understand what the propaganda is that they may or may not be reading", said House Republican Rep. Mike Conaway, who is leading the House intelligence committee probe.

Facebook found roughly 3,000 ads paid for by Russian operatives related to the 2016 campaign.

Facebook has turned over the ads - and information on how they were targeted, such as by geography or to people with a certain political affiliation - to congressional investigators. The lawmaker in question, Rep. James Clyburn, reportedly told Sandberg that Facebook helped President Donald Trump win the 2016 election.

Sandberg, who was in Washington for meetings with US lawmakers, told the congressional black caucus on Thursday that Facebook planned to add an African-American to its board of directors, a source familiar with the closed-door meeting said, but she offered no details.

Facebook and other major internet companies, including Alphabet's Google and Twitter, are on the defensive as they try to limit fallout from a torrent of revelations about how Moscow sought to use their platforms to sow discord in the United States and influence the election.

"Absolutely", Ms Sandberg told Axios when asked if she supported releasing those ads publicly.

"So, Twitter took down the ad and put it back up", Sandberg said. "We know we have a responsibility to do everything we can to prevent this kind of abuse".

Asked if Facebook contributed to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's defeat a year ago, Sandberg, an open Clinton supporter during the campaign, did not answer directly but said it was important the website was "free from abuse" during any election in any country.

But she also said that had the ads been linked to legitimate, rather than fake, Facebook accounts, "most of them would have been allowed to run".

Despite her views, Sandberg said she would be okay with an advertisement like Blackburn's running on Facebook because "when you cut off speech for one person, you cut off speech for all people". She said the company is also using "machine learning and automation" to target fake accounts that spread fake news.

"We don't check the information posted on Facebook before people post it, and I don't think people should want us to", she said. "And it's not just content, it's ads, because when you're thinking about political speech, ads are really important". Representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter are expected to testify about Russian influence at hearings before the Senate and House intelligence committees on November 1.

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