Facebook on Friday praised special counsel Robert Mueller's decision to indict a Russian “troll farm” and 13 foreign nationals over an alleged campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 election — an effort that relied heavily on the social media platform.
Facebook disclosed in September that it had sold $100,000 worth of advertisements to the Internet Research Agency, which was named in Friday’s indictment.
“We proactively disclosed the IRA activity to the Special Counsel, Congress, and the public, and have worked with them to give the public a fuller understanding of what occurred,” Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global policy, said in a statement. “We’re grateful the US government is now taking this aggressive action against those who abused our service and exploited the openness of our democratic process.“
"Defendants' operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump ('Trump campaign') and disparaging Hillary Clinton," the indictment reads. "Defendants made various expenditures to carry out those activities, including buying political advertisements on social media in the names of U.S. persons and entities."
Facebook’s general counsel, along with executives from Google and Twitter, were chewed out by lawmakers in a series of hearings last year over their lack of awareness of the influence operations during the election.
Since then, the company has promised reforms to prevent the platform from being so easily manipulated and check the spread of misinformation.
“We know we have more to do to prevent against future attacks,” Kaplan said Friday, noting the company’s hiring of 10,000 content moderators and its collaboration with law enforcement. “We’re committed to staying ahead of this kind of deceptive and malevolent activity going forward.”