WASHINGTON – One of Facebook’s top executives met Wednesday with House members investigating the company’s Russia-linked ads, and told them the social media giant is serious about dealing with the issue.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, told lawmakers the company is working hard to ensure Americans “understand what the propaganda is that they may or may not be reading,” said House Republican Rep. Mike Conaway, who is leading the House intelligence committee probe.
Facebook recently provided three congressional committees investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election with more than 3,000 Russia-linked ads. The company has said the ads focused on divisive political messages, including LGBT issues, immigration and gun rights, and were seen by an estimated 10 million people.
Conaway, R-Texas, and the top Democrat on the panel, California Rep. Adam Schiff, met with Sandberg in the office of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
Conaway and Schiff said after the meeting that they expect to release the Facebook ads eventually. That’s a break from the Senate intelligence committee, which had said it won’t release the records.
Wednesday’s meetings are ahead of a Nov. 1 House Intelligence Committee hearing at which Facebook, Twitter and Google are expected to testify. The Senate Intelligence Committee is also holding an open hearing with the three companies that day.
Sandberg also was meeting Wednesday with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and No. 2 House Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland.
Walking into that meeting, Hoyer said he wants to know what Facebook knew, and “when they knew it.”
Sandberg also was expected to meet Thursday with the Congressional Black Caucus. Some members of the caucus have been critical of Facebook over the ads, many of which had racial themes.
One member of Congress who viewed the ads said that of about 70 that person had viewed, all of them had racial themes. The person said the ads were meant to inflame all sides, with some showing white police officers beating black people. The member declined to be named because the ads aren’t public.