US states have confirmed the political interference by entities associated with or originating from Russia in the 2016 US presidential election, in an effort to game the polls in Trump's favour. Russia has officially denied any meddling, and Trump has denied colluding with Russia, although admitting that Facebook and Twitter did help him win the election. Amid growing pressure, social media platforms are now scrutinising and regulating political advertisements on their platforms. Executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter have been asked to testify to the US Congress about Russian political interference in the presidential election.
Google has initiated a probe into how its services could have helped Russian agents. Twitter has disclosed that it has banned close to 200 accounts related to Russia, based on 450 accounts that Facebook had disclosed information on. Facebook is also sharing information about Russia operated profiles discovered on Facebook according to a report in ReCode.
According to Facebook, a Russia related operation spent more than $100,000 in politically motivated ads on the platform during the 2016 US presidential election.
3,000 advertisements generated by accounts controlled by entities in Russia have gone under the scanner, and Facebook has promised increased transparency on political ads in the future. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has also indicated that Facebook will put more human reviewers in the loop in its ad-buying system after advertisers were able to target people interested in anti-semitic groups.
Soon after the surprise victory by Donald Trump last year, Zuckerberg called it a "crazy" idea that fake news and political information spread through the social network was responsible for Trump winning. After Zuckerberg dismissed the influence of Facebook on the election, then US President Barack Obama had asked Zuckerberg to take the threat of fake news and political disinformation seriously.
Last week, Donald Trump tweeted out allegations of Facebook being anti-Trump and colluding with news agencies to spread disinformation. Mark Zuckerberg responded by denying the allegations, and pointing out that while Trump accused Facebook of being anti-Trump, liberals had accused Facebook of helping Trump win.
After Yom Kippur, a holy day for Jews, Zuckerberg asked for forgiveness for the divisions created because of the activity on his platform, and committed to do better.