Facebook: About 10 million people saw Russian-backed ads
Facebook Inc. said late Monday that an estimated 10 million people saw ads from Russian-backed sources meant to sow misinformation and divisiveness in the U.S. around the 2016 presidential campaign. In a statement, Facebook said 44% of the ads were viewed before the election, and 56% were seen after it. Facebook said that while some of the ads were paid for in Russian rubles, that did not set off alarm bells because most Russian advertisers who paid in that currency did not do anything wrong. The company defended itself from accusations that it should not have permitted the divisive ads, saying it walks a fine political line. "Even when we have taken all steps to control abuse, there will be political and social content that will appear on our platform that people will find objectionable, and that we will find objectionable," Facebook said. "We permit these messages because we share the values of free speech." Facebook had sent congressional investigators more than 3,000 ads that were Russian-backed, and representatives from the company have been invited to testify before Congress next month. Last week, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he underestimated the effects of fake news on Facebook, and the company has announced changes to make political ads more transparent.