Digital Transformation

Sheryl Sandberg seeks to assuage US government concern over Russian propaganda Facebook fears

By John Glenday | Reporter

October 12, 2017 | 3 min read

Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has been dispatched to meet with US legislators in an effort to persuade officials that the social media company is actively tackling the issue of Russian-backed propaganda.

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg seeks to assuage US government concern over Russian propaganda

Speaking after the closed-door session took place, House Republican Rep. Mike Conaway said that Sandberg had spoken of the need to ensure Americans ‘understand what the propaganda is that they may or may not be reading’.

As part of a ramping up of its efforts, Facebook is believed to have requested assistance from US intelligence services to help identify Facebook users who may be acting as puppets for foreign powers.

The meeting served as a preamble to a gathering of the House Intelligence Committee on 1 November at which Facebook, Twitter and Google are likely to testify.

Facebook has found itself engulfed by criticisms in recent months over its handling of Russian interference, not to mention its role in the spread of fake news and trolling. It has already handed over 3,000 ads in private – seen by an estimated 10m people - which it had traced to a Russian internet agency which are believed to have centred on divisive issues such as LGBT rights, immigration and gun laws.

One member of Congress who viewed a sample said that the majority of the ads were designed to inflame racial tensions; including images of white policemen beating black people.

Thus far however Facebook has declined requests to release the adverts to the public.

Yesterday Google conceded that it too had helped to spread Russian propaganda.

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