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Facebook will help investigators release Russia ads, Sandberg tells Axios

Facebook will help investigators release Russia ads, Sandberg tells Axios
From Reuters - October 12, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Facebook Inc (FB.O) Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said on Thursday the company was fully committed to helping U.S. congressional investigators publicly release Russia-backed political ads that ran during the 2016 U.S. election.

Things happened on our platform in this election that should not have happened, Sandberg said during a interview in Washington with the Axios news website. We told Congress and the intelligence committees that when they are ready to release the ads, we are ready to help them.

The live interview was the first by a senior Facebook executive since the company disclosed last month it had found some 3,000 politically divisive ads believed to have been bought by Russia in the months before and after the presidential campaign.

The interview with Sandberg came during a multi-day visit to Washington that included meetings with U.S. lawmakers. On Wednesday, she met privately with the leaders of the House Intelligence Committees Russia investigation.

Sandbergs outreach comes as the social media giant and other major internet firms, including Alphabets Google (GOOGL.O) and Twitter (TWTR.N), are on the defensive as they try to limit the fallout from a torrent of new revelations about how Moscow sought to use their platforms as vehicles to sow discord in the United States and to influence the election.

Sandberg told Axios the company began hearing rumors of Russian attempts to use the platform to spread propaganda around election day last November, but did not give a precise timeline about when the company began its review.

Sandberg said she supported the public release of those ads, and the pages they were connected to. Information about how the ads were targeted toward specific kinds of users would also be released, she said.

Asked if Facebook contributed to Democratic candidate Hillary Clintons defeat last year, 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 Sandberg acknowledged the company had erred in how it handled the issue of foreign interference last year.

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