Faced with the decision over whether to adhere to its standard of protecting user content or to help safeguard the integrity of U.S. elections, Facebook says it has chosen the latter as it plans to hand over to Congress more than 3,000 ads that could be linked to Russian meddling in last year’s elections.
The ads, which ran in the U.S. between 2015 and 2017 and addressed social and political issues, came from accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency out of Russia, according to Facebook. The social media giant’s chief legal counsel, Colin Stretch, used a blog post to detail the latest step in the company’s cooperation with federal investigators.
Facebook had previously announced that it was providing information related to the ads to the Special Counsel investigating allegations of Russian interference. Now after what it calls a “legal and policy review,” the company has decided to share the content more broadly.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, on his first day back after parental leave for the birth of his second child, also used a live video to spell out why the company was sharing the content.
“I care deeply about the democratic process and protecting its integrity,” Zuckerberg said. “Facebook’s mission is all about giving people a voice and bringing people closer together. Those are deeply democratic values and we’re proud of them. I don’t want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy. That’s not what we stand for.”
Zuckerberg said he wished Facebook could stop all interference, but that that’s not realistic because there will always be “bad people in the world.” But he said Facebook can make it a lot harder, and that’s what they plan to do through a series of nine steps over the next few months.