Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asks for forgiveness amid probe into Russian ads

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who days after the U.S. presidential election called “crazy” the idea that fake news on the social network influenced the election results, has apologized and asked for forgiveness.

In a Facebook post Saturday night to mark the end of Yom Kippur, Zuckerberg said: “For the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together, I ask forgiveness and I will work to do better.”

The CEO’s comments come as his company said it would turn over 3,000 Russian-linked ads to Congress on Monday. The company is under pressure to share more about what it knows after it disclosed in September that it had found fake accounts and pages that had spent about $100,000 on divisive political ads on the social network from June 2015 to May 2017.

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Last week, Twitter told congressional investigators that it had pulled down 201 accounts linked to Russian entities that also bought ads on Facebook. And Google is said to be looking into whether its services were also used for Russian propaganda.

Russia has denied meddling in the U.S. presidential election.

Zuckerberg’s request for forgiveness is the latest in the evolution of the company’s reaction to the growing realization that it and other social networks played an important role in the election of President Donald Trump. Facebook, Twitter and Google rely on mostly automated ad-buying systems, and ads are their main source of revenue.

Monday, Facebook announced that it will hire 1,000 more people to review ads. That’s in addition to its vow to invest more in machine learning.

“Reviewing ads means assessing not just the content of an ad, but the context in which it was bought and the intended audience — so we’re changing our ads review system to pay more attention to these signals,” Joel Kaplan, vice president of global policy, said in a blog post. His post mentioned that of the ads the company is turning over to Congress, “many appear to amplify racial and social divisions.”

Kaplan also said Facebook is “updating our policies to require more thorough documentation from advertisers who want to run US federal election-related ads.”

Here’s Zuckerberg’s full post:


Photo: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at the F8 Developers Conference on April 12, 2016, in San Francisco. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)


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  • Richard Charnin

    As US lawmakers demand social media companies show how their platforms were allegedly used by Russia to meddle in the 2016 election, WikiLeaks co-founder tweeted emails that show Facebook executives in direct communication with one candidate’s team.
    Beginning on October 7 last year, WikiLeaks published hundreds of emails from the private account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta. The daily drops continued for a couple days after the November 8 election.


  • Is he really? What a hypocrite! Do you expect me to believe that Facebook that exploys the most talented guys in the business to work out all sorts of algorithms to further differentiate services, did not know about Russians using Facebook? Zuckerberg must have known, probably liked to see how far things could go, in case he starts his own campaign.