CLC Calls on Facebook to Disclose 2016 Ads Bought by Foreign Entities

Sep 12, 2017
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Ads were viewed by as many as 70 million American adults; information is critical for determining the extent of Russian interference in U.S. elections

WASHINGTON – Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) sent a letter to Facebook Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to provide the American people and appropriate investigators with more information regarding foreign entities spending money through fake accounts on Facebook ads. The Russian nationals who created and paid for the ads appear to have violated campaign finance law by making prohibited campaign expenditures.

According to Facebook’s own accounting, as many as 70 million people viewed the ads, meaning potentially 28 percent of voting-age adults were reached by the influence campaign.

“It is a foundational element of our democracy that voters have a powerful interest in knowing who is trying to influence their vote,” said Brendan Fischer, director, federal and FEC reform program at CLC. “Facebook appears to have been used as an accomplice in a foreign government’s effort to undermine democratic self-governance in the U.S. This must be taken seriously by Facebook – and they must be fully transparent with the content of the political ads, so we may better understand the nature and extent of foreign influence in our elections.”

U.S. law prohibits a foreign national from spending any money in connection with U.S. elections. That includes any contributions directly to a candidate or his campaign, as well as any “expenditure”—meaning any money spent for the purpose of influencing an election.

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