Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg admitted he underestimated the impact of fake news on his social network during last year’s election, as another divisive Russian-backed ad buy came to light.
“After the election, I made a comment that I thought the idea misinformation on Facebook changed the outcome of the election was a crazy idea. Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it. This is too important an issue to be dismissive.”
“Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like,” Zuckerberg said, noting that Facebook spread political messages from both sides and that its “get out the vote” effort helped more than 2 million people to register to vote.
Last week, Facebook FB, +2.11% turned over about 3,000 Russia-linked ads to government investigators looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race, and announced new transparency measures for political ads.
Later Wednesday, CNN reported that at least one of the Russian-bought ads referenced Black Lives Matter and was targeted at audiences in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, the sites of large protests following the deaths of black men at the hands of police.
Sources told CNN the ads were from a Russian troll farm and aimed to spread political discord in the U.S. The ad reportedly was supportive of Black Lives Matter, but its message could be portrayed as threatening to those who didn’t agree with it.
Other Russian-backed ads reportedly focused on hot-button issues such as racial tensions, gun rights and illegal immigration.
On Wednesday, Facebook said it had been invited, along with Twitter Inc. TWTR, +2.17% and Alphabet Inc.’s GOOG, +2.12% GOOGL, +2.40% Google, to testify in an open hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Nov. 1 to discuss how Russia may have manipulated social media to its benefit.