During an in-depth conversation with Axios co-founder Mike Allen, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg took some responsibility for Facebook’s role in facilitating Russian misinformation, and pledged to include ad targeting information as part of the company’s disclosures on political interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Saying that the company owes Americans “not just” an apology but continued “determination,” Sandberg also admitted, “Things happened on our platform that should not have happened.”
The discussion centered on the continuing scandal over Russian-linked propaganda ads on the company’s platform. Yesterday, House lawmakers investigating the ads said, after a meeting with Sandberg, that they would release the ads to the public. Sandberg said that all of the ads provided to investigators should “absolutely” be released to the public, and added that targeting information — data on who those ads were shown to — would also be provided.
Notably, however, that information came in response to a question Sandberg declined to directly answer multiple times: was there overlap between the Trump campaign’s ad targeting and Russia’s?
Sandberg, during the interview, also weighed in on the controversy over Twitter’s decision to ban a campaign ad that alleged Planned Parenthood sold “baby body parts.” Twitter eventually reversed that decision, but Sandberg said Facebook would not have blocked the ad in the first place. “When you cut off speech for one person, you cut off speech for all people,” Sandberg said.
She said Facebook has partnered with other companies in its investigation into Russian activity and will continue to work with the US government. “We want the full picture to be understood,” she said. “We don’t want this kind of foreign interference.”