Overnight Tech: 10M Facebook users saw Russian ads | Facebook gives ads to Congress | Senate confirms FCC chair to new term | SEC cracks down on digital currency scams

Overnight Tech: 10M Facebook users saw Russian ads | Facebook gives ads to Congress | Senate confirms FCC chair to new term | SEC cracks down on digital currency scams
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10M SAW RUSSIAN ELECTION ADS ON FACEBOOK: Facebook revealed on Monday that roughly 10 million users saw political ads purchased by Russian actors around the time of the 2016 election.

Some 44 percent of the ads were seen before the election, while 56 percent were seen after, according to the company's numbers.The company notes that a quarter of the 3,000 ads purchased were never seen by any Facebook users.

Facebook's numbers comes amid mounting pressure from some lawmakers who want to see the social media behemoth publicly release the 3,000 ads purchased by the Kremlin-linked "Internet Research Agency." The company had just turned over the ads to lawmakers on Monday.


"The American people deserve to see the ways that the Russian intelligence services manipulated and took advantage of online platforms to stoke and amplify social and political tensions, which remains a tactic we see the Russian government rely on today," the House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffJan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth Jan. 6 panel releases contempt report on Trump DOJ official ahead of censure vote The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back MORE (Calif.), said in a statement on Monday.

Read more here.


FACEBOOK RELEASES RUSSIAN ADS TO LAWMAKERS: Facebook said it released the more than 3,000 political ads purchased by Russian actors on its platform during the 2016 campaign to congressional investigators on Monday.  

The move comes after Facebook faced pressure from federal lawmakers such as Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate dodges initial December crisis with last-minute deal Liberty University professor charged with alleged sexual battery and abduction of student Five Senate Democrats reportedly opposed to Biden banking nominee MORE (D-Va.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). They are the highest ranking Democrats in the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, respectively.

While they have said that they're pleased with Facebook's decision to release the ads to investigators, they want more details.

A spokesperson for Warner said he's interested in the activity of the social media accounts through which the ads were purchased. His office believes this could yield more information on how Russians may have sought to influence the election and sow discord among Americans more than through just the advertisements.

"I think we may just be seeing the tip of the iceberg. [Facebook has] had a fairly narrow search," Warner said last month.

The Senate Intelligence Committee sent invitations to Facebook, Google and Twitter last week to testify before a Congressional panel on Nov. 1 regarding potential Russian interference in the 2016 election. None of the companies have said they will attend, but after Twitter briefed the House and Senate Intelligence Committees on Thursday, Warner said he may subpoena representatives from the firms to appear, if necessary.

The House Intelligence Committee says it will also hold a public hearing on the matter in October, and would like the three companies to be present as well.

For its part, Facebook said it's constantly updating its systems as it hunts for malicious activity and that it has been forthcoming in the information it has provided so far.

Read more here.


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FACEBOOK WILL HIRE 1,000 AD REVIEWERS: Facebook announced changes to its ad platform Monday that the tech giant says will help prevent misuse.

The moves come as a part of the company's response to allegations that groups tied to the Russian government used Facebook ads to influence the 2016 election.

Facebook says that it will now have its human and machine reviewers more closely scrutinize the circumstances around an ad purchase, as well as the ad's intended audience. Additionally, advertisers will have to confirm the organization that they represent before they can buy ads on Facebook.

Read more here.


SCHIFF WANTS RUSSIA ADS MADE PUBLIC: The House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, Adam Schiff (Calif.), says he is pushing for the 3,000 ads purchased on Facebook by Russian actors during the 2016 presidential campaign to be released to the public.

The California Democrat says he hopes to make a "representative sampling" of the ads public by the time the House Intelligence Committee holds a hearing on the matter later this month. The committee expects Facebook, along with Twitter and Google, to send representatives to testify at the hearing.

"But I am also committed to making all of these ads public as soon as possible, working closely with Facebook to address any privacy considerations," Schiff also noted in a statement released Monday.

Read more here.


ONE RUSSIAN AD REPORTEDLY SHOWED A BLACK WOMAN FIRING A RIFLE: One of the 2016 election ads that Facebook sold to Russia-linked accounts showed the image of a black woman brandishing a rifle, an apparent attempt to stoke racial tensions in the U.S., according to The Washington Post.

The ad is among those that Facebook is handing over to Congress as part of the Russia investigation.

The Post reported that the ad showed the woman "dry firing" a rifle -- meaning that she was pulling the trigger while the gun was unloaded.

None of the ads in the trove that Facebook is handing to Congress have been made public, though leaks have suggested that the ads were aimed at playing up divisive issues.

Read more here.


PAI GETS ANOTHER TERM: The Senate on Monday voted 52-41 to confirm Ajit Pai to another term as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

"I am deeply grateful to the U.S. Senate for confirming my nomination to serve a second term at the FCC and to President Trump for submitting that nomination to the Senate," Pai said in a statement.

"Since January, the Commission has focused on bridging the digital divide, promoting innovation, protecting consumers and public safety, and making the FCC more open and transparent."

Pai was approved with support from 48 Republicans and four Democrats: Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems press drillers over methane leaks Overnight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Abortion access for 65M women at stake Joe Manchin should embrace paid leave — now MORE (W.V.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillLobbying world Ex-Rep. Akin dies at 74 Republicans may regret restricting reproductive rights MORE (Mo.), Gary PetersGary PetersFive ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — US mulls Afghan evacuees' future Senators look to defense bill to move cybersecurity measures MORE (Mich.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats wrangle to keep climate priorities in spending bill  On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Senators huddle on path forward for SALT deduction in spending bill MORE (Mont.).

Read more here.


YOUTUBE DRAWS CONSERVATIVE ANGER: YouTube is in hot water with conservative users and creators, with the Google-owned video giant accused of discriminating against the right as YouTube takes ads off content that it says violates the terms of service.

Last month, YouTube quietly made moves to remove advertisements on certain types of content that it says is not consistent with its terms of service. YouTube doesn't serve ads on demonetized videos, meaning big hits to the bottom line for conservative YouTube personalities.

YouTube says that its efforts are aimed at cracking down on hate speech, but conservative and right-wing video creators say they're frustrated by the changes.

Read more here.


SEC CHARGES TWO COMPANIES IN CRYPTOCURRENCY SCAMS: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is charging two companies for defrauding investors through initial coin offerings (ICOs) -- a new method for raising capital with cryptocurrencies.

The SEC says that Maksim Zaslavskiy and his companies have been selling unregistered securities to investors and allege that the digital tokens he offered don't exist.

Investors in Zaslavskiy's company's REcoin Group Foundation and DRC World (also referred to as Diamond Reserve Club) were told that they could expect significant returns on their investments while both companies were not actually in operation, according to the SEC's complaint.

Read more here.


EQUIFAX ADDS 2.5M TO NUMBER AFFECTED BY BREACH: Equifax says that 2.5 million more Americans than originally believed have been affected by the record-breaking cyber attack on the firm.

The new additions bring the total of affected Americans to 145.5 million. Names, social security numbers, birthdates and other information were all compromised in the breach.

"I want to apologize again to all impacted consumers," Equifax's newly appointed interim CEO Paulino do Rego Barros said in a statement on Monday.

Read more here. 



The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) will hold an event on the Internet of Things featuring Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Suzanne DelBene (D-Wash.) at  10:00 a.m.

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on cracking down on online sex trafficking through changes to the Communications Decency Act at 10:00 a.m.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing regarding the Equifax breach at 10:00 a.m. The company's former CEO will testify.

The House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on the cybersecurity of internet-connected devices at 2:00 p.m.



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