Facebook will turn over to Congress more than 3,000 political ads bought by Russian-linked accounts during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the company announced Thursday, just as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went live on his own platform to announce measures the company would take to stop people from interfering in elections in the future.
“We believe it is vitally important that government authorities have the information they need to deliver to the public a full assessment of what happened in the 2016 election,” general counsel Colin Stretch said in a statement. “That is an assessment that can be made only by investigators with access to classified intelligence and information from all relevant companies and industries — and we want to do our part.”
At the same time, on Facebook Live, Zuckerberg outlined nine measures the company plans to implement to combat election interference and increase transparency without making the ad-purchasing process more cumbersome for potential buyers.
“I don’t want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy,” Zuckerberg said. “We are actively working with the U.S. Government on its ongoing investigations into Russian interference.”
Facebook will more than double their election integrity team in size and collaborate more closely with election commissions around the world, with a goal of adding 250 people working on security, Zuckerberg said. Zuckerberg also said that no interference had been found as of yet in the German election, which is scheduled for Sunday.
Among the new changes include the ability for Facebook users to visit advertisers pages and see all of the ads they are posting, as well as who they are targeting. The new developments will be rolled out over the “coming months,” Zuckerberg said.
Even with the new disclosure of the ads, there are still more questions than answers about Facebook’s role in the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. Still, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the vice chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, who had previously quarreled with Facebook over disclosing the ads, applauded the social media platform’s announcement on Twitter.