Facebook To Release Targeting Info Along With Russia Probe Ads

The Facebook ads that will be made public as a part of a congressional Russia probe will be released with their associated targeting information, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg revealed Thursday.

“When the ads get released, we will also be releasing the targeting for those ads,” Sandberg told Mike Allen during an Axios Q&A. “We’re going to be fully transparent.”

The comment came after she was asked repeatedly whether there was an overlap between Russia’s and the Trump campaign’s activity on the platform during the 2016 campaign. She did not answer that question directly.

Among the tools Facebook offers ad-buys on its platform is the ability to target their ads based on geography, demographics or other factors. Democrats involved in the probes have wondered if the Russians behind the suspicious ad buys had assistance — from the Trump campaign or otherwise — in deciding how to target the ads.

Leaders of the House Intel Committee’s Russia investigation announced Wednesday that the Facebook ads they are reviewing will be made public, but likely not before an open hearing the committee is planning with  social media companies next month.

The Facebook ads are also being investigated by the Senate Intel Committee as well as by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Last month, Facebook said in a blog post that it had identified roughly 3,000 ads linked to 470 inauthentic accounts with links to a Kremlin-backed troll firm.

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