Facebook says it will investigate how presidential campaigns used its platform during the election

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement on Thursday that the company is examining how is tools were used by presidential campaigns to promote ads or other content during the election.

In a video statement published on Facebook, Zuckerberg outlined nine steps his company will take to figure out how inauthentic accounts linked to Russia were able to use the platform to spread fake news and purchase $US100,000 worth of political ads during the election.

In doing so, Facebook will not only look into “foreign actors, including additional Russian groups and other former Soviet states,” but also “organisations like the campaigns” to further its “understanding of how they used our tools.”

Zuckerberg’s comments mark the first time Facebook has indicated that campaign activity on Facebook is being scrutinised alongside that of foreign actors.

Zuckerberg did not refer to President Donald Trump’s campaign specifically. But congressional intelligence committees are homing in on the Trump campaign’s data operation as a potential trove of incriminating information.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC earlier this month that he wanted to know the sophistication of the Russian-bought ads, in terms of their content and targets, to determine whether they had any help from the Trump campaign.

The committee also wants to interview the digital director for Trump’s campaign, Brad Parscale, who worked closely with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, now a senior White House adviser.

Kushner was put in charge of the campaign’s data operation, and the FBI is now scrutinizing his contacts in December with the Russian ambassador to the US and the CEO of a sanctioned Russian bank.

Facebook said in a statement earlier this month that about 25% of the ads purchased by Russians during the election “were geographically targeted,” though many analysts have said they find it difficult to believe that foreign entities would have had the kind of granular knowledge of American politics necessary to target specific demographics and voting precincts.

In a postelection interview, Kushner told Forbes that he had been keenly interested in Facebook’s “micro-targeting” capabilities from early on.

“I called somebody who works for one of the technology companies that I work with, and I had them give me a tutorial on how to use Facebook micro-targeting,” Kushner said.

“We brought in Cambridge Analytica,” he continued. “I called some of my friends from Silicon Valley who were some of the best digital marketers in the world. And I asked them how to scale this stuff … We basically had to build a $US400 million operation with 1,500 people operating in 50 states, in five months to then be taken apart. We started really from scratch.”

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