House intel committee to release Russia-linked Facebook ads

Story highlights

  • The decision ends a stand-off over making the Russia-linked ads public
  • Facebook turned over 3,000 Russian-linked ads to the intelligence committees

(CNN)The House intelligence committee will release copies of the election-related Facebook ads that were purchased by Russian-linked accounts, the committee leaders said Wednesday.

Following a meeting with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, the leaders of the House Russia investigation -- Reps. Mike Conaway of Texas and Adam Schiff of California -- said they had reached an agreement to release the Russia-linked content.
"It will be released by our committee," said Schiff.
    The decision for the House intelligence committee to release the ads ends a standoff between Congress and Facebook over making the ads public, after Facebook turned over 3,000 Russian-linked ads to the intelligence committees but bristled at the notion of releasing them, citing the company's privacy policy.
    Facebook, along with Twitter and Google, are scheduled to testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees for back-to-back public hearings November 1 on Russian efforts to use social media platforms to influence the 2016 US elections.
    Conaway said it was unlikely his committee would release the ads before that hearing.
    But "my personal hope is we do this as quickly as we can," Conaway said.
    The committee planned to work with Facebook to "scrub" personally identifiable information from the ads, Schiff said.
    While Conaway and Schiff had previously expressed a desire to release the ads, Senate intelligence committee chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina said he did not want his committee to do so, arguing that any documents turned over to the committee were sensitive and should not be made public.
    Conaway said it was too soon to say whether Facebook did enough to protect against Russian efforts to influence the US election through social media.
    Any discussion about whether Americans were involved with the Russian-linked Facebook effort was beyond the scope of Wednesday's meeting, Schiff said.
    Facebook told Congress last month that it had sold roughly 3,000 ads to 470 Russian accounts tied to the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-linked troll farm. 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.
    Sandberg was also meeting Wednesday with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer. She is scheduled to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday.
    Asked what he wanted to know from Sandberg, Hoyer said: "What they knew and when they knew it."