Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said today he is “dead serious” about getting to the bottom of Russian government-backed agents’ impact on the 2016 U.S. presidential election through the social platform, and the company plans to double the number of employees and partners focused on safety and security to approximately 20,000.
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Zuckerberg addressed the issue in his opening comments of a call with analysts following a successful third quarter for Facebook. He brought the topic up because Facebook’s security push will be deep enough that it will significantly impact future profits.
“I’ve expressed how upset I am that the Russians tried to use our tools to sow mistrust,” Zuckerberg said. “We built these tools to help people connect and to bring us closer together, and they used them to try to undermine our values. What they did is wrong and we are not going to stand for it.”
Investors didn’t seem as concerned as Zuckerberg about the actions of Russian agents as the large majority of questions were about advertising, video and other parts of the business.
As Zuckerberg addressed investors, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch was on Capitol Hill for a series of Congressional hearings focused on Russian election interference. Facebook, as well as representatives from Twitter and Google, confirmed that they still don’t know how much influence Russian government-backed agents wield on their platforms.
A report this week from The New York Times indicated Russian government-backed agents created posts that reached about 126 million Facebook users around the Nov. 8 election. This week’s hearings suggest content from Russian agents may have reached even more Facebook users. For reference, there are roughly 200 million registered voters in America.
At the hearings, the tech giants dodged questions about whether they would support a bill to hold political ads on their platforms to the same standards as television and radio. Zuckerberg said Facebook is cooperating with legislators on the issue and rolling out its own slate of transparency measures.
Next month, Facebook will debut tools that let anyone view any ad run by any group. An archive of political ads will display which demographics the ad reached and how much was spent on the ad. Ads will also be labeled to make it clear who paid for them.
“We’re bringing the same intensity to these security issues that we’ve brought to any adversary or challenge that we’ve faced,” Zuckerberg said.