Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg condemned Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and promised to do more to stop it in the future today after announcing the social media giant would release to congressional investigators some 3,000 ads sold to Russian operatives in 2015 and 2016.
His comments come after Facebook revealed earlier this month that fake accounts linked to a Russian company bought more than $100,000 worth of political ads during the presidential election, adding a new dimension to the ongoing investigations into allegations of Russian election interference.
In Zuckerberg’s remarks, in a Facebook live post on his profile, he said that after finding ads linked to Russian accounts that were believed to be attempting to interfere in the 2016 election, Facebook turned them over to the special prosecutor.
“We’ve been investigating this for many months now, and for a while, we had found no evidence of fake accounts linked to Russia running ads. When we recently uncovered this activity, we provided that information to the special prosecutor we also briefed Congress and this morning. I directed our team to provide the ads we found to Congress as well,” Zuckerberg said in the video.
Zuckerberg also said that Facebook is going to “strengthen our ad review process for political ads” and use “an even higher standard of transparency” than exists for television and other media already.
At another point in the video, he noted the decisive role that social media played in campaign strategies, and touted Facebook’s voter registration initiative that helped 2 million people register to vote.
“Many of these dynamics were new in this election and in a much larger scale… and they were much larger in scale than any of the interference that we have found,” he said.
Facebook says it sold $100,000 in ads to fake Russian accounts during presidential election
He said that dealing with the threat of nation states interfering in elections was not an issue that the company has had to deal with before but “if that’s what we must do then we are committed to rising to the occasion.
“We don’t check what people say before they say it and frankly I don’t think society wants us to,” Zuckerberg said.
He said that if people break Facebook’s code of conduct or the law “there will be consequences.”
“We won’t catch everyone immediately but we can make it harder to try to interfere,” he said.
Zuckerberg said that Facebook would “continue working with the government” and strives “to be a force for good and democracy everywhere.”