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Facebook bows to pressure to release Russia ads to Congress

Facebook will provide the contents of 3,000 ads bought by a Russian agency to congressional investigators.

The move comes amid growing pressure on the social network from members of Congress, who pushed it to release the ads.

Facebook has already handed over the ads to federal authorities investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is "actively working" with the US government in its ongoing Russia investigations.

In a Facebook post and live video Zuckerberg said that he has directed his team to provide the ads, created by fake accounts linked to Russia, to Congress.

But he warned that Facebook is not going to be able to catch all undesirable material before it hits its social network.

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you we're going to catch all bad content in our system. We don't check what people say before they say it, and frankly, I don't think our society shouldn't want us to," Zuckerberg said.

"If you break our community standards or the law, then you're going to face consequences afterwards.

"We won't catch everyone immediately, but we can make it harder to try to interfere."

Zuckerberg hinted that the company may not provide much information publicly, saying that the ongoing federal investigation will limit what he can reveal.

"As a general rule, we are limited in what we can discuss publicly about law enforcement investigations, so we may not always be able to share our findings publicly," he said.

The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee have been seeking to bring Facebook executives before their committee since the company first revealed the existence of the ads two weeks ago. But critics say Facebook should go further. They say the company should tell its users how they might have been influenced by outside meddlers.

AP

Zuckerberg also said that Facebook will make political advertising more transparent.

"When someone buys political ads on TV or other media, they're required by law to disclose who paid for them. But you still don't know if you're seeing the same messages as everyone else," he wrote in a post .

Top Democrats on the House of Representatives and Senate intelligence panels praised Facebook's decision.

Congressman Adam Schiff of California and Senator Mark Warner of Virginia said the contents of the ads would help their investigations, but stressed that the move was just a first step.

Both have said they want the company and other social media outlets to give evidence in open hearings.

Senate intelligence committee chairman Richard Burr has also called for Facebook to give evidence.

Mr Schiff said his panel should also scrutinise "how rigorous Facebook's internal investigation has been" and Mr Warner tweeted that Americans "deserve to know the truth about Russia's interference in the 2016 election".

AP

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