Facebook has "an enormous responsibility" for Russian interference in USA election


In an interview with US-based news website Axios on Thursday, she said, "At our heart we are a tech company".

Axios asked Sandberg what the world's largest social network knew about the extent of Russia's use of its platform and if ads on Facebook that had been placed by Russian accounts and Donald Trump's presidential campaign had overlapped in terms of target audiences. She said Facebook hopes to "set a new standard in transparency in advertising".

Facebook found roughly 3,000 ads paid for by Russian operatives related to the 2016 campaign. US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian Federation used cyber-enabled means in an attempt to help Trump win the White House, an allegation the Kremlin has denied. Sandberg is no stranger to Washington. Facebook, she said, does owe America an apology. The board has been criticized for its lack of diversity.

"This is a very fragile moment in time for African-Americans across this country", Richmond told reporters after the meeting. "What we needed Facebook to understand is that they play a role in the perception of African-Americans, and they are influencers that use their platform to influence this country".

Sandberg and others from Facebook appeared before USA congressional panels looking into reports of Russian interference in the election.

Sandberg said she supported the public release of those ads, and the pages to which they were connected.

Facebook's disclosures come as Congress considers potential regulations on the platform, and Democrats have called on the Federal Election Commission to adopt rules to block foreign agents from purchasing political ads on social media.

"The thing about free expression is that when you allow free expression, you allow free expression", Sandberg said.

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"We do not want this kind of foreign interference in Facebook", she added. "We don't check the information people put on Facebook before they run it, and I don't think any one should want us to do that".

Later Thursday, Sandberg met privately with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, where she was pressed on what the company is doing in response to its discovery that numerous ads pushed by Russian-linked accounts were aimed at sowing racial discord.

She criticized Twitter's decision this week to remove a campaign video from Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee.

Sandberg said when Twitter initially took down the ad and said Blackburn could only run the free content, they made a mistake. Twitter later reversed its decision.

One member of Congress who viewed the ads said that of about 70 that person had viewed, all of them had racial themes. "And it's not just content, it's ads, because when you're thinking about political speech, ads are really important".

Sandberg said Facebook wanted other internet companies to work towards making ad purchases more transparent, and she said Facebook was talking with lawmakers who want to introduce legislation on the issue.

Sandberg is meeting with elected officials in Washington this week ahead of a House hearing at which executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google are expected to testify.