Amid growing revelations that the companies which many Americans rely on as news sources were exploited by a Russian disinformation campaign surrounding the US presidential election, there's a new report that "Russian agents" spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on Google properties, such as its search engine, YouTube, Gmail and more.
"We see the Russian Federation presence on social media metastasizing", said Rep Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Google found a separate $53,000 worth of ads with political material that were purchased from Russian internet addresses, building addresses or with Russian currency, but it is not clear whether any of these were state-sponsored ads and may have been legitimate ad spending by Russian citizens, the person said. Both lawmakers and Facebook representatives have said that the apparent goal of the ads was to amplify political discord by exploiting tensions over hot-button political issues like race, immigration and gun rights. The Senate Intelligence Committee is also holding an open hearing with the three companies that day.
Following the meeting, Rep. Mike Conaway, the Republican leading the panel's investigation, and Rep. Adam Schiff, the panel's ranking Democrat, spoke briefly with reporters.
Sandberg was also meeting Wednesday with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.
Asked what he wanted to know from Sandberg, Hoyer said: "What they knew and when they knew it".
The group will focus its dialogue with Sandberg on Facebook's "diversity tone-deafness", including why the company has no black members of its board of directors, why Facebook allowed communities of to be targeted with its advertising products and who is being held accountable to make sure that such ads don't appear on Facebook in the future. The Facebook executive is doing damage control in D.C. this week after the company was criticized for not discovering the ads sooner and not making them publicly available.
"It will be released by our committee", said Schiff.
Otherwise, though, Facebook has not released copies of the ads for public viewing.
Elliot Schrage, vice president of Policy and Communications at Facebook, said: "The threats we're confronting are bigger than any one company, or even any one industry".
Last week, Facebook announced it would be hiring an additional 1,000 ad reviewers to crack down on these issues.