Facebook's Sandberg meets with House leaders on Russia probe

Facebook's Sandberg meets with House leaders on Russia probe
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Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg met with House leaders Wednesday on Capitol Hill to brief them on the social media platform’s investigation into alleged Russian use of the site to influence the 2016 presidential campaign.

Following Sandberg’s meeting with the House Intelligence Committee, the panel’s top members said that they would be making public the 3,000 ads purchased by Russian groups during the campaign that Facebook handed over to congressional investigators.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father Erik Prince says meeting with Russian banker unrelated to Trump campaign MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the panel, said that in addition to the ads, Facebook would also be turning over data on how many people the fake Kremlin-linked accounts were able to reach beyond their paid advertisements.

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“Obviously, we’re going to want to get a complete sense of what the Russians were doing on their platforms and others,” Schiff told reporters after a meeting in the House minority leader’s office.

“Not just the advertising but all the downstream consequences of that advertising, all the things that they were pushing out through non-advertising means on these platforms," he said.

Schiff added that he still has questions about how Facebook can be used by malicious actors to manipulate U.S. politics.

Sandberg also met Wednesday with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) before heading to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) office to brief Pelosi, Schiff and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) on the company's Russia investigation.

Sandberg declined to answer questions from reporters in between meetings, though lawmakers from both parties seemed encouraged by their meetings with the Facebook executive.

"We had a very good meeting," Pelosi told The Hill, saying she was satisfied with what she heard from Sandberg. "I know that she's a great American patriot so she wants to protect our security, our elections and our First Amendment rights."

"I think Facebook is very committed to doing the right thing here," Walden told reporters outside of the House majority leader’s office after the meeting.

Walden, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, explained that social media companies and lawmakers are struggling to figure out how to regulate those who spew hate and stoke divisions online.

"Even though they've been around awhile, people are figuring out how to manipulate and use a system that was built for good to bad ends," Walden said.

"It was a good meeting. A good discussion," added Eshoo, who said she would encourage the intelligence community to work closely with Facebook.

Facebook representatives are slated to testify publicly before the House and Senate Intelligence committees on Nov. 1.

The company revealed last month that it had sold the 3,000 ads to fake accounts linked to a Russian "troll farm" called the Internet Research Agency, prompting scrutiny from investigators in Congress and the office of special counsel Robert Mueller.

Facebook has since promised to overhaul its advertising system by requiring that political ads include disclosures about funding sources. The company has also committed to building out its team of human content reviewers to monitor its ad sales.

Updated: 4:55 p.m.