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Facebook's Sandberg Knocks Twitter for Blocking Blackburn Ad

13 October 2017

Despite public promises of cooperation from Facebook and other social media companies, congressional investigators are battling over how much data the companies should hand over to them on Russian efforts to influence the 2016 USA presidential election.Congressional sources said this week that Facebook Inc has been slow to cooperate.

Some 470 accounts spent a total of approximately $100,000 between June 2015 to May 2017 on ads that touted fake or misleading news, according to Facebook.

During Sandberg's visit, caucus members not only took Facebook to task over its lily-white board of directors, prompting Sanberg's vow to help diversify the company, but also the Russian-bought ad referencing Black Lives Matter meant to fuel race-based tensions.

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".

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"The thing about free expression is that when you allow free expression, you allow free expression", Sandberg said. Facebook, she said, does owe America an apology.

Last month, Facebook agreed to hand over the ads to congressional investigators in addition to special counsel Robert Mueller.

Sandberg acknowledged that the company had erred in how it handled the issue of foreign interference a year ago.

"None of us should want this kind of foreign interference and in others to prevent it, we are all going to have to fully cooperate with each other, with government, across the board", Sandberg said.

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

Axios co-founder Mike Allen asked Sandberg whether Twitter made a mistake in blocking Blackburn's ad.

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

Facebook, Twitter, and Google are all under federal scrutiny for the role their platforms played in Russian meddling in the election. "And it's not just content, it's ads, because when you're thinking about political speech, ads are really important".

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Facebook's Sandberg Knocks Twitter for Blocking Blackburn Ad