Politics

Schiff Says Facebook Revelation Bolsters Case Against Russia

‘Troll farm’ linked to Russia paid for ads on Facebook, company tells investigators

Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking minority member on the House Intelligence Committee, said while the amount spent on the ads in question is relatively small, millions of people were exposed to them. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Rep. Adam B. Schiff said Wednesday that Facebook’s admission that it sold ads to a so-called Russian “troll farm” bolsters the case that Russia conducted a disinformation campaign in last year’s election.

Schiff made the statement on CNN after Facebook executives told congressional investigators Wednesday that it discovered it had sold about $100,000 worth of ads to a Russian entity with a history of spreading pro-Russian propaganda, which was first reported by the Washington Post.

Schiff said that’s more proof that Russia tried to stage a disinformation campaign to influence last year’s elections.

“We, I think, already knew the Russians were using paid social media trolls to try to influence the election, try to sow discord,” he said. “This certainly confirms that finding.”

In a statement, Facebook said most of the ads did not reference the 2016 election but were intended to sow discord by  amplifying “divisive social and political messages.”

The revelation came the day before President Donald Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. testifies behind closed doors t0 Senate Judiciary Committee investigators about a meeting with Russians and others who offered dirt on Trump’s Democratic presidential opponent Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told ABC News that he has “a lot more questions for Facebook” following the briefing.

“I think there’s a lot more to be discovered, and a lot more transparency that’s needed from Facebook, Twitter and other firms,” he said. “My hope is at some point we even have Facebook and Twitter and some of the other social media firms here for a public hearing.”

While Facebook said the sum of all money spent was $100,000, Schiff said that is still a concern given Facebook’s reach.

“That’s millions of people seeing or liking or passing on disinformation, and that can be influential,” he said.

Facebook's spokesperson said "We continue to investigate and will cooperate with authorities."

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