Facebook reportedly removed all references to Russia from an early public report the social networking giant compiled on the social media campaign to influence the 2016 election.
The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, reported on Friday that Facebook decided to shorten by several pages the April 2017 report, titled “Information Operations and Facebook,” after the company’s lawyers and policy team recommended that any references to Russian involvement. According to WSJ, Facebook based its decision to not include any mentions of Russia in the report on the fact that the company was still mostly speculating about the extent to which Russia was involved in the campaign to manipulate the social network and potentially influence American voters.
Instead, Facebook’s 13-page report only referred vaguely to “malicious actors” who attempted to influence the presidential election, but the company opted not to assign blame at the time.
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Facebook has since turned over roughly 3,000 ads bought by Russian-linked accounts that were part of the influence campaign during the lead-up to last year’s election. Earlier this week, Facebook said that nearly 10 million Americans viewed those ads, most of which sought to spread misinformation and exploit existing political divisions in the U.S., and which were also reportedly aimed at swing states during the election process.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized last weekend “for the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together.” The company also announced plans to hire an additional 1,000 employees to review online ads, and Zuckerberg has pushed for various changes aimed at curbing the amount of fake news that appears on the social network. Meanwhile, federal lawmakers have called on Facebook, along with Google and Twitter, to testify before Congress on the roles each service might have played in aiding the spread of misinformation during the election process.